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Is it All about the Economy? Government Fractionalization, Economic Performance and Satisfaction with Democracy across Europe, 2002−13

  • Elina Kestilä-Kekkonen and Peter Söderlund
Abstract

While previous research has generally shown that economic performance is an important predictor of satisfaction with democracy, differences between political systems on the majoritarian-consensual dimension have not been as marked as expected. What has been neglected in previous studies is how the interaction between economic performance and type of power-sharing arrangement co-produce democratic satisfaction. This study uses multiple rounds of data from the European Social Survey between 2002 and 2013 involving 31 countries. The results show that short-term changes in economic performance and government fractionalization interactively increase or decrease levels of political support. The effect of economic performance on satisfaction with democracy becomes weaker the more fractionalized a government is. Satisfaction with how democracy works in a country remains relatively high in systems with fractionalized coalition governments when the economy is performing poorly. But when the economy performs extraordinarily well, satisfaction with democracy is even higher in countries with a dominant party in charge of government power.

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Elina Kestilä-Kekkonen is University Lecturer and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Tampere. Contact email: elina.kestila-kekkonen@uta.fi.

Peter Söderlund is Adjunct Professor at the Social Science Research Institute, Åbo Akademi University. Contact email: peter.soderlund@abo.fi.

Footnotes
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