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ECPR Virtual General Conference 2020

Can Electoral Engineering Protect Democracy? Electoral Rules, Representational Roles and Citizens’ Satisfaction with Democracy

Comparative Politics
Survey Research
Zsófia Papp
Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Zsófia Papp
Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

The aim of the proposed project is to investigate whether or not in countries where voters may not only choose between parties, but persons too, citizens are significantly more satisfied with how democracy works. The causal mechanism this project looks at is personal representation and constituency orientation. It is hypothesised that electoral rules affect satisfaction with democracy indirectly through the roles pursued by national representatives. In more personalised electoral systems, legislators achieve personal representation and carry out more constituency service. As a consequence of a solid link between citizens and legislators it may be expected that the citizens’ satisfaction with democracy starts to increase. This is notable because a positive evaluation of democracy provides a solid basis for democracy itself by decreasing citizens’ willingness to support parties not being entirely committed to the ideal of liberal democracy. Satisfaction, therefore, stabilises democracy as a political system. Based on this argument, proponents of personal representation argue that if legislators are given more space in representing the interests of their constituencies, we may help democracy to survive in an era characterised by dissatisfaction with democratic institutions.
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