The Democratic Paradox: Are National Elections Always Good for Satisfaction with Democracy in Europe?

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Abstract

This article challenges the widespread notion that national elections are unequivocally good for people's satisfaction with democracy. Instead, it argues that elections have enduring and disparate effects on democratic satisfaction, depending on the economic situation in which they take place; that is the election economy. When held during economic upturns, national elections increase subsequent satisfaction with democracy during most of the following electoral term-regardless of election results and economic growth after the election. When held during economic downturns, elections reduce democratic satisfaction until the next election-again, regardless of such post-election developments. An analysis of 29 European democracies in the period 1973-2019 supports these propositions and suggests that the disparate effects of national elections endure during most of the electoral term. These findings are robust to an array of model specifications, including when accounting for several pre-election and post-election developments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Volume21
Issue3
Pages (from-to)1679-1696
Number of pages18
ISSN1475-1461
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

Keywords

  • ATTITUDES
  • DYNAMICS
  • ECONOMIC-CRISIS
  • INSTITUTIONS
  • MECHANISM
  • PARTICIPATION
  • POLICY PREFERENCES
  • POLITICAL EFFICACY
  • VOTERS
  • WINNERS
  • election economy
  • elections
  • satisfaction with democracy

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