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When long-distance relationships don't work out: Representational distance and satisfaction with democracy in Europe

van Egmond, Marcel and Johns, Robert and Brandenburg, Heinz (2020) 'When long-distance relationships don't work out: Representational distance and satisfaction with democracy in Europe.' Electoral Studies, 66. p. 102182. ISSN 0261-3794

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Abstract

We assess the impact of party representation on satisfaction with democracy. Our proposition is that such representation is not only about having a chosen party in government; citizens also derive satisfaction from having their views represented by a political party. We test this through an individual-level measure of policy (in)congruence: the ideological distance between a voter and his or her closest party. Via multi-level modelling of European Election Study data from 1989 to 2009, we find that perceived policy distance matters: the further away that voters see themselves from their nearest party – on either a left-right or a European unification policy dimension – the less satisfied they are with democracy. Notably, this effect is not moderated by party incumbency or size. Voters derive satisfaction from feeling represented by a nearby party even if it is small and out of office. Our results caution against a purely outcomes-driven understanding of democratic satisfaction.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Voting behavior Representation and electoral systems
Uncontrolled Keywords: Elections; EU Politics and policy; Public opinion; Political parties; Quality of democracy
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2020 09:48
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27903

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