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The Effect of Direct Democratic Rights on Citizens’ External Efficacy: A Multilevel Investigation of Swiss Population data

Democracy
Institutions
Political Participation
Referendums and Initiatives
Anna Kern
Ghent University
Anna Kern
Ghent University
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Abstract

Following proponents of direct democracy, one way of sustaining the linkage between citizens and the state is to involve them more directly into the political decision making process. Indeed, as some studies show, citizens who live in direct democracies believe more strongly that the government is responsive to their demands, i.e., have a higher level of external political efficacy. However, not all empirical evidence confirms this relationship. One explanation for this mixed evidence is that no distinction is made between the institutional availability of direct democratic rights and their actual use. It remains questionable whether citizens need to actually use direct democratic procedures or whether the mere availability of these opportunities is sufficient to strengthen their sense of political efficacy. In this paper we will distinguish between the availability of direct democratic rights and the frequency of their use and explore which factor has the strongest effect on political efficacy.