The Increasing Democratic Deficit in Europe
The author analyses the relationship between democratic performance and legitimacy of both government and opposition parties across 20 European nations from 1990 to 2010.
He argues that parties have increasingly shown self-interested behaviour that is not necessarily aligned to the interests of the electorate. This has reduced the perceived legitimacy of parties and weakened their effectiveness when in government.
The author defines democratic performance as a combination of:
- The lawful adherence to democratic norms and institutions and;
- The degree to which parties make policy choices that adhere to the most pressing concerns of the electorate.
Using multiple sources of data, the author develops a composite measure of legitimacy based on satisfaction with parties, compliance with the rule of law, voter turnout and willingness to protest. He finds a notable decline, on average, in the legitimacy of the major political parties across the 20 surveyed countries.
He concludes this has generated more electoral volatility, shorter-lived governments and new parties, often with populist themes. This in turn further negatively affects trust in parties, parliaments and government efficacy.
Thumbnail image: Alexander Kaiser, pooliestudios.com