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Scandal Fatigue? Scandal Elections and Satisfaction with Democracy in Western Europe, 1977–2007

Abstract

Elections involving a major scandal were unusual in the late 1970s, but today nearly half are so affected. Multilevel analyses of Eurobarometer data reveal that scandal elections once had negative net effects on satisfaction with democracy. However, as scandals have become more common, the negative effect has withered away. This ‘scandal fatigue’ process appears driven by changes in scandal material, rather than by changes in citizens’ reactions to a given type of material. Scandals involving several politicians and parties still really matter, but these have not become markedly more common. The possibility that the increasing incidence of scandals has created a more critical approach to scandal material is discussed. As scandals accumulate, citizens may become more prone to ponder the relevance of a story and the motives of the messenger.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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