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Satisfaction with democracy: when government by the people brings electoral losers and winners together


Leemann, Lucas; Stadelmann-Steffen, Isabelle (2022). Satisfaction with democracy: when government by the people brings electoral losers and winners together. Comparative Political Studies, 55(1):93-121.

Abstract

The last decade has witnessed the rise of populist parties and a number of actors that question liberal democracy. Many explanations of this rely on dissatisfied citizens. We ask in this article whether and how institutions allowing citizens to participate in policy-making affect differences in democratic satisfaction within varying representative contexts as well as between electoral winners and losers. To do so, we first develop a measure of sub-national direct democracy and then use it together with extensive survey data to investigate how direct democracy is associated with citizens’ evaluation of their democratic system. We conclude that direct democracy is not generally related to more satisfied people but rather closes the “satisfaction-gap” between electoral winners and losers. In contrast to previous research, we demonstrate that this mechanism holds across different representative systems.

Abstract

The last decade has witnessed the rise of populist parties and a number of actors that question liberal democracy. Many explanations of this rely on dissatisfied citizens. We ask in this article whether and how institutions allowing citizens to participate in policy-making affect differences in democratic satisfaction within varying representative contexts as well as between electoral winners and losers. To do so, we first develop a measure of sub-national direct democracy and then use it together with extensive survey data to investigate how direct democracy is associated with citizens’ evaluation of their democratic system. We conclude that direct democracy is not generally related to more satisfied people but rather closes the “satisfaction-gap” between electoral winners and losers. In contrast to previous research, we demonstrate that this mechanism holds across different representative systems.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:elections, public opinion, and voting behavior, political psychology, representation and electoral systems, sub-national politics
Language:English
Date:1 January 2022
Deposited On:27 Sep 2021 11:49
Last Modified:26 Mar 2024 02:38
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0010-4140
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/00104140211024302
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/195645/
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)