Financial remittances and election turnout in the municipalities of the Republic of Serbia: the economy of voting
This paper investigates possible evidence on whether remittances from abroad have had a significant influence on the outcome of Serbia’s presidential elections. Using the linear random-intercept model and based on presidential- election data for municipalities between 2002 and 2017, the study finds that voter turnout rates were positively related to the share of remittances in the municipalities’ GDP per capita. For a 1% increase in the share of remittances in municipalities’ GDP, the voting turnout increases by 0.31% on average. Also, regarding the within-municipality effect, as the share of remittances in GDP increases over time by 1%, voter turnout decreases by 0.42%. Further, it reveals how the size of the population temporarily abroad had a negative effect on voter participation throughout the entire period examined across both municipalities and time. The study also captures the effects of education and ethnicity. Specifically, as the share of highly educated people increases by 1% over time, so the election participation rates in a particular municipality also increase by 0.83%. After introducing categorical variables for the ethnic composition of the municipality, the study finds that in municipalities with a non-Serb majority, the level of participation was on average 3.31% lower, from 2002 to 2017. Finally, a statistically significant difference in voter turnout was recorded between the economically most developed and the least developed regions: the most developed region had on average 7.71% higher election participation than the region characterized by high emigration and large financial inflows. As far as Serbia is concerned, the final results confirm the findings of previous literature that the economical vacuum, created by the disappearance of state support, is filled by remittances. Possible reasons for the results are discussed.
Keywords: Republic of Serbia, temporary migrants, financial remittances, voter turnout, municipality