Wind Turbines, Public Acceptance, and Electoral Outcomes

Resul Umit, Lena Maria Schaffer


We study the public acceptance of wind turbines, and its effect on electoral outcomes. Despite a widespread public support for wind energy in general, wind turbine proposals attract a considerable amount of public opposition—a challenge for any government looking to invest in this source of renewable energy. Our analysis draws on a survey experiment in Switzerland, where the number of wind turbines will grow from a couple of dozens to over a thousand in the next three decades. We find that exposure to wind turbines increases public acceptance, but this affect does not translate into electoral turnout or vote choice. Moreover, locality or politicisation does not seem to have an effect at all—neither on acceptance nor on electoral outcomes. Our results suggest that voters do not reward or punish political parties for their positions on wind energy, even when turbines might soon be rising in their local area.