Democracy, Direct democracy, Inequality, Political disaffection, Populism, Public opinion, Referendums
We examine the gap between perceptions of seeing referendums as an important democratic principle, versus perceiving how referendums are used in practice. We term this the “referendum disappointment” gap. We find support for referendums as a democratic principle is strongest among those most disaffected from the political system, and that the disaffected are more likely to perceive they are not given a say via referendums. We also find context-specific effects. Disappointment was greater in countries with higher corruption and income inequality. We also find higher disappointment among right-populist voters, those who distrusted politicians, and among people who viewed themselves at the bottom of society. Overall, these patterns reflect disappointment with democracy among sections of society who have a sense of not being heard that conflicts with how they expect democracy should work in principle.
Required Publisher's Statement
© 2019 by the authors; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY).
Bowler, Shaun and Donovan, Todd, "Perceptions of Referendums and Democracy: The Referendum Disappointment Gap" (2019). Political Science Faculty Publications. 22.
Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this document for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author’s written permission.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This article is part of the issue “The Politics, Promise and Peril of Direct Democracy”, edited by Todd Donovan (Western Washington University, USA).