Published online by Cambridge University Press: 31 May 2019
Studies of citizens’ satisfaction with democracy have established a connection between satisfaction and how well those citizens’ preferred parties perform in elections. Yet, the question remains whether ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ respond to the same system- and party-level factors when evaluating their political satisfaction. We build on extant literature to consider citizen satisfaction with democracy from the perspective of character valence. Using the Mannheim Eurobarometer trend file and content analysis-based data on parties’ character valence, we find that both winners’ and losers’ satisfaction with the political system is affected by parties’ character valence, but in differing (and somewhat surprising) ways. We find that winners respond to improvements in the character valence of opposition parties, whereas losers demonstrate greater concern with the valence of governing parties.
An earlier version of this paper was prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the European Consortium on Political Research, 3–6 September 2014, University of Glasgow, Scotland.