Political cynicism and electoral choice

Aida Paskeviciute, Martin Rosema

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    Political trust and political cynicism are not key concepts in electoral research. However, if models based on traditional factors (social background, policy preferences, ideological positions, government approval, and candidate images) failed to provide an adequate explanation of the support of a particular party, political cynicism has been put forward as a relevant factor. Electoral support for so-called extreme right-wing and populist parties in Europe are well-known examples. The evidence for the impact of political cynicism on the vote is, however, rather limited and scattered. Moreover, how the concept of policial cynicism relates to notions like political trust, political alienation, and political support is not sufficiently clear. The aim of this paper is to take up both issues. Its first aim is to provide some conceptual clarity regarding the meaning of political cynicism, by discussing both political science literature as well as the psychological foundation of the concept. The second aim is to provide a more systematic analysis of the impact of political cynicism on the vote (both electoral participation and party choice), by focusing on a wide range of European countries and a wide range of parties. This will be done on the basis of survey data from the European Social Survey (ESS) and the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES). Findings indicate that political cynicism affects votersʼ preferences for some parties but not for others. Furthermore, findings indicate that whereas in some countries political cynicism leads to abstention, in other countries it leads to support for particular parties. We conclude by discussing the implications for the functioning of democracy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2008
    Event31st ISPP Annual Scientific Meeting 2008 - Paris, France
    Duration: 9 Jul 200812 Jul 2008
    Conference number: 31


    Conference31st ISPP Annual Scientific Meeting 2008


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