Building: VMP 5 Floor: 2 Room: 2197
This panel focuses on political trust, both its determinants and its variation within and between democracies. Political trust can be defined as a basic evaluative orientation of how governmental institutions, political parties and actors operate against the backdrop of one’s normative expectations (Stokes, 1962; Hetherington, 1998; Miller, 1974). It is said to be a requisite for the functioning of democracy, which makes the institutions work effectively, facilitates social and economic exchange, moderates transaction costs in markets and reduces the need for control and supervision (Listhaug & Ringdal, 2008). In the long run, the lack of political trust may affect both the legitimacy and stability of democratic regimes (Easton 1965), prevent effective implementation of policy reforms (Hooghe & Zmerli, 2011) or even increase the willingness of citizens to engage in illegal behavior (Marien & Hooghe, 2011). However, there is no consensus whether the political trust in Western democracies is declining steadily and permanently, or if the political systems only are suffering from short-term temporary drops in political trust, and the trust will soon return to the normal level as soon as the economy recovers.
The panel consists of papers that study what explains the level of political trust and why and how it fluctuates in different contexts from different theoretical and methodological perspectives. To fully understand the implications of varying levels of trust, be they permanent or temporary, we need to understand why there are differences between citizens and under which contextual conditions changes in political trust occur.