On their own turf? The level-specificity of political trust in multilevel political systems

Dominika Proszowska*, Giedo Jansen, Bas Denters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
50 Downloads (Pure)


Although the debate on roots of political trust is ongoing, many scholars agree on the relevance of such political factors as political/ideological distance between citizens and incumbents, political responsiveness and perceptions of performance. Less clear is to what extent such trust evaluations are generalized or specific for the three main political arenas in the European multilevel governance system (EU, national, local). With new data from the Netherlands, we demonstrate that trust in local, national and EU governments (1) is largely level-specific (i.e. is based on citizens’ perceptions of incumbents at a particular governance level) (2) and—at all three levels—is explained by level-specific political factors. This shows that political trust is a subjectively rational evaluation and that citizens develop meaningful political orientations vis-à-vis governments at different levels. Therefore, trust spillovers may be less relevant for explaining political trust in multilevel governance than assumed in previous research as executive governments at local, national and EU levels are judged “on their own turf”.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-528
Number of pages19
JournalActa politica
Early online date21 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • European Union
  • Evaluation
  • Institutional trust
  • Local politics
  • Multilevel governance
  • Political trust


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