Voting on Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Citizens More Supportive than Politicians

Stadelmann, David; Torgler, Benno
January 2017
PLoS ONE;1/26/2017, Vol. 12 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
As the public debate over stem cell research continues, the observable voting behaviour in Switzerland offers a unique opportunity to compare the voting behaviour of politicians with that of voters. By analysing the outcomes of a referendum on a liberal new bill regulating such research, we reveal an about 10 percentage point lower conditional probability of the bill being accepted by politicians than by voters. Whereas the behaviour of politicians is driven almost entirely by party affiliation, citizen votes are driven not only by party attachment but also by church attendance. Seldom or never attending church increases the probability of bill acceptance by over 15 percentage points, while supporting the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party instead of the Christian Democratic Party makes supporting the bill more likely for voters, suggesting that religious observance is important. The observance of these tendencies in Switzerland—an environment that promotes discussion through direct democratic rights—strongly suggests that citizens see the benefits of stem cell research.


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