The Myth of Legitimacy Decline: An Empirical Evaluation of Trends in Political Support in Established Democracies

Carolien van Ham, Jacques Thomassen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This chapter comprises an empirical evaluation of trends in political support within established democracies, to evaluate whether there is indeed a trend toward declining political support in established democracies. Using a variety of comparative data sets, i.e. the World Values Surveys, European Values Surveys, the European Election Studies, and the Eurobarometer surveys, this chapter reevaluates the empirical evidence for declining legitimacy, comparing trends in political support in sixteen established democracies from the mid-1970s to 2015. No consistent evidence is found for declining political support after the mid-1970s. Rather than a clear-cut long-term decline in political support that is apparent across established democracies, there is large variation between countries both in levels and trends of support. These findings call for a critical reappraisal of existing theories of legitimacy decline: how valid are such theories if the predicted outcome, i.e. secular decline of political support, does not occur?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMyth and Reality of the Legitimacy Crisis
Subtitle of host publicationExplaining Trends and Cross-National Differences in Established Democracies
EditorsCarolien van Ham, Jacques Thomassen, Kees Aarts, Rudy Andeweg
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198793717
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2017

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