Voter Turnout in Portugal: A Geographical Perspective

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The decline of voter turnout in Portugal was confirmed in the legislative election of 2015. The unquestionable democratic value associated with the act of voting, leads to the discussion of this issue, and emphasizes the need for additional investigation. Particularly, it is crucial to identify the characteristics of citizens who vote, to better understand the phenomenon and think about solutions. This work identified the most significant sociodemographic variables in explaining voter turnout in continental Portugal and described the relationship between those variables and voter turnout, including the geographical variation existing across the municipalities. A Semiparametric Geographically Weighted Regression (SGWR) model enabled the investigation of local variations in turnout values, simultaneously considering that its relationship with some variables might vary over space. Results show that turnout is influenced by a set of sociodemographic variables. While some variables affect turnout differently over the country (percentage of family cores with children aged less than 15, and percentage of owner-occupied houses), others affect it uniformly (percentage of graduated residents, percentage of classic families, and distance to Lisbon or Oporto–the nearest). These results suggest the use of a semiparametric approach to better understand turnout and for further research on voting issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-111
Number of pages24
JournalPapers in Applied Geography
Issue number1
Early online date11 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Geographical Information System
  • semiparametric geographically weighted regression (SGWR)
  • Sociodemographic variables
  • spatial analysis
  • spatial variability


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