Bringing together social science and political theory, this book analyzes the relationship between democracy and trust. Trust can develop where interests. Because political trust is considered a necessary precondition for democratic rule , Yet with all this dissatisfaction, no significant support has yet developed for any . Trust relationship are defined by the subject's degree of uncertainty and/or . developing democratic prerequisites, like the appreciation of democratic values, in the nondemocratic .. the relationship between generalized trust and de-.
A strengthening of pro-democratic orientations, at the same time, has characterized this intergenerational value change Dalton, ; Klingemann, Younger generations show greater tolerance toward diversity, in particular, and a stronger internalization of democratic principles, in general. We expect, therefore, these two convergent forces, the shift in value priorities and the increasing attachment toward democracy, to interact strongly with the decline of political trust in established regimes.
Fluctuations in trust have, however, been subjected to essentially different dynamics in new democracies. In many countries, transition to democracy motivated aspirations of civil, political, and economic rights. As a result of these new demands, higher standards for evaluating governmental performance emerged after regimes had changed.
In a significant number of cases, however, basic needs of vast segments of the population have not yet been met—partly due to the distributional effects of dramatic economic transformations. We expect the erosion of political trust in new democracies, therefore, to be more closely linked to disillusionment and disaffection rather than to the emergence of a more critical citizenry.
The objective of this paper is to analyze individual bases of political trust in society. We use the distinctive dynamics sketched above precisely as a frame to identify some of these determinants both in new and established democracies, studying their differences and commonalities.
We first examine trends in political trust over time.
Then we build a model of political trust. Finally, concluding remarks round off the empirical findings. In fact, one of the main problems in the literature is the unclear differentiation between trust in political institutions and evaluations of government performance, leading to serious operationalization problems.
This has been evident since the s Easton, ; Miller,but there are few efforts for clarification. One of our main findings is that political trust has declined, rather than increased, in newly democratic societies.
Without doubt, legislators and bureaucrats, party leaders and union representatives are among the most noticeable political actors in democratic polities, along with the executive representatives: However, an operationalization of trust in government based on questions about political actors may make the concept more sensitive to government performance. Based on data availability and comparability, our paper focuses on political trust as a function of confidence in legislative bodies and governmental structures, that is, in parliament and congress, depending on the case, and the civil service.
The first wave took place in —83, followed by a second in —91, and then a third in — The recent fourth wave was conducted in —01 and includes, for the first time, predominantly Islamic societies. More information can also be retrieved from World Values Survey n. Although the entire dataset is much broader than what we use in this paper, the necessity that data and questions be available for the same countries at, at least, two points in time reduced the number of countries for our analysis to 37 for our descriptive analyses, and to 26 countries for our multivariate analyses.
Each national representative sample includes about 1, interviews, though sample sizes vary from country to country. We employed weighting techniques by population size for pooled analyses. This decline is very significant in many new democracies, but a moderate decrease can be observed in established democracies, too. Let us take a look at the confidence in some political institutions among the mass publics during the last two decades. Legislative bodies, either parliament or congress, depending on the case, are common components of democratic rule.
As Figure 3 suggests, the high trust rate in Sweden is quite typical for the other Nordic countries Denmark, Norway, Finlandjust as the low trust rates in Poland, Romania, and Slovenia are rather typical for the post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
It is important to note, however, that the measurement of political trust rates depends strongly on the specific formulation of the question and the number and type of categories offered. Longitudinal trends and cross-national rankings are therefore more important sources of information than the absolute percentage in a single country.
Political trust across the globe, WVS, — World Values Survey — Yet even the cross-national ranking ought to be taken with a grain of salt, as political trust rates tend to be quite volatile across time. In Western countries, political trust fluctuates within margins around a relatively stable mean.
Yet these fluctuations do affect the ranking of countries described in Figure 2. This is well illustrated by Figure 3where the left panel reflects political trust rates in Europe according to the WVS — and the right panel reflects political trust rates according to the European Values Survey EVS — Both surveys pose the same trust questions and ran rather concurrently, yet the trust rates differ.
There was a problem providing the content you requested
This reflects at least in part the specific timing of the fieldwork in the two surveys. Trends in Established Democracies General Trends The rising concern across the West about supposed decline in political trust in the coincided with two phenomena. First, representative democracy experienced a backlash in the West, ranging from the shootings of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy in the s and the Watergate scandal in the s to the resurgence of authoritarianism in Southern Europe.
Second, the student revolts of the late s challenged political and societal authorities, and with them the traditional setup of democratic rule. Since then, there has been more or less uninterrupted debate about the trends in political trust. As more and longer time series data became available in the s, the debate began to focus primarily on the nature of these trends.
How should the changes in political trust be understood? Many have argued that the trends in political trust represent a structural decline. Yet others suggest that political trust predominantly fluctuates in response to recurrent events of varying length and intensity: The debate is still undecided to this day, depending on both the object of trust and the length of the time series. When we break the debate down along these lines, we find that public support for democratic principles has remained very high throughout the years.
Similarly, the satisfaction with the way democracy functions has increased in many European countries since the s. Even though various surveys report an undercurrent of support for technocratic rule or for strong leaders, the same respondents also call for more direct democracy.
Support for these alternate modes of government thus need not be seen as undemocratic. Rather, as John Hibbing and Elizabeth Theiss-Morse suggest in Stealth Democracy, it may instead reflect support for a democratic model in which citizens leave politics to strong leadership who are expected to act in the public interest but can be overruled by the public when need be. The trends in political trust show stronger fluctuations over time. These fluctuations make it more difficult to assess whether the long-term trend is stable or reflects a slow but fundamental decline.
One could make the case that trust has declined in the long run, that is, since the s or the s in many Western countries. Dalton argues that there has been such a decline, even though it set in at different points in time in different countries. On the other hand, Norris argues that there has been no evidence for a structural downward trend in political trust since the s. North America The United States stands out as an example of a country that has experienced a sharp decline in the decades since the Second World War.
Canada experienced a less outspoken but visible decline in political trust between the s and the early s.
Trust in government in the United States, — Pew Research Center Western and Southern Europe Unfortunately, in the established democracies of Western and Southern Europe, such long-term trends are based on a scarcity of data with often many gaps or rather indirect measures of political trust.
Any decline in political trust must have taken place predominantly during the s and s before leveling off in the s and s. Levels of trust have traditionally been highest in the Nordic countries, followed by the rest of Northwestern Europe. These countries share relatively long democratic traditions and low levels of corruption.
These regional differences grew when the Southern European democracies were hit especially hard by the recession and the subsequent austerity policies after The Great Recession The great recession that hit the West after is a particularly intriguing event in the study of political trust.
Especially in Europe, the recession invoked a sharp and rather long-lasting decline in political trust rates. The recession eroded not only trust in political institutions but also in most countries to a slightly lesser extent satisfaction with the way democracy functions. The recession as an economic downturn coincided in Europe with various political and leadership crises on international solidarityrepeated concerns with the breakdown of the European monetary union, and the implementation of austerity policies in countries like Ireland, Portugal, Italy, and Greece.
It is hard to separate the impact of the economic downturn itself from the subsequent political response analytically. This combination of relatively high and stable support for democratic principles and the functioning of democracy and fluctuating or even declining trust in political institutions such as government and parliament suggests the rise of the critical citizen.
The narrative of an ongoing crisis in political trust in established democracies therefore remains contested.
Trust and Democracy - Oxford Handbooks
In recent decades high levels of support for democratic principles have coincided with low levels of trust in the political institutions. At least to date, these low trust rates have not spilled over into undermining support for the regime itself. Moreover, while relatively low, political trust has not been in structural decline in recent decades.
Rather, trust rates responded to the behavior, macroeconomic performance, and scandals around those in power. This has revealed remarkable parallels and differences. This decline seems to have bottomed out since.
Remarkably, as Figures 2 and 3 show, trust is higher in partial and non-democracies than in the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe. According to the data of the European Values Survey —, the countries with the highest trust rates in the region are Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Russia; Azerbaijan ranks highest on the continent. We can speculate on the reasons for this gap.
Political trust may not have an equivalent meaning in non-democracies. It might be more difficult for survey research to tap validly into the attitude of citizens in non-democracies. Or the sources of political trust may simply be different in full democracies than in non-democracies: Democracies in Latin America appear to be consolidating after a long history of aborted transitions and authoritarian rule. Over the last decades the region has provided fertile ground for new studies on political trust.
Trust in government specifically has shown an upward trend in recent years, thereby narrowing the gap. Moreover, the comprehensive analysis by Bargsted, Somma, and Castillo shows that within-country fluctuations in political trust in Latin America correspond to changes in political performance, similar to what occurs in the established democracies of Western Europe and North America.
Yet, simultaneously, Latin America has unique features: This implies that political trust in the latter regions is an expression of loyalty rather than skepticism.Democracy and Development: How Do They Fit Together?
South and East Asia are particularly interesting regions in which to study political trust, as they cover democracies, authoritarian regimes, and hybrid systems. Two fundamental points of contention are whether political trust has the same meaning in such diverse systems, and, if so, whether it can be measured in a valid and reliable way in less democratic systems see Shi,pp.
Political trust rates were higher in well-performing authoritarian regimes than in the democratic regimes of the region Park, Yet the standards seem to differ. Authoritarian regimes are judged mainly on their economic performance, whereas democratic regimes are evaluated on the basis of democratic principles. This suggests that maintaining high levels of trust in non-democratic societies depends on continuous economic growth. Africa and the Arab region, finally, have remained the most understudied regions in the world when it comes to trust research.
Evidently, data limitations have been the main culprit. Nevertheless, this oversight is surprising from a theoretical point of view, given the fundamental and divergent events that occurred across both regions. The Arab Spring revolts are just one of many recent examples. Hutchison and Johnson show that especially sub-Saharan African countries face stiff challenges to obtain and retain political trust: These demands are more basic than the demands for economic performance and good governance that governments have to meet in representative democracies.
Yet Hutchison and Johnson also show that despite these important contextual differences, citizens in African countries are not dissimilar to citizens in more traditional democracies: All in all, representative democracies across the globe face a similar combination of relatively high support for democracy and relatively low levels of trust in political institutions.
Yet to the extent that time series data have been available for a longer time span, there is only evidence for a slow decline of political trust in the former communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe in recent decades. Determinants of Political Trust The most extensive subfield in the political trust literature focuses on its determinants.
It covers studies on the micro level individualsmeso level organizationsand macro level countries. Research examines subject characteristics i. In recent years these various approaches have become increasingly integrated, in line with the idea that political trust is conceptually a relationship characteristic between subject and object.
The trust-as-evaluation approach is moving beyond the focus on effects toward modeling mechanisms that ought to explain these effects. To the extent that political trust is indeed an evaluation of the object by the subject, there is a missing link. That missing link is the benchmark or standard to which politics is held.
Widespread corruption is more likely to undermine political trust among those who more strongly value a neutral government. Low expectations are likely to boost evaluations. The relevance of benchmarks and standards is only rarely taken up in the literature on political trust. However, that does not mean they are not present implicitly. Cross-national studies on determinants of political trust, for instance, implicitly assume that trust is the result of a comparison to other countries or at least to a cross-nationally equivalent standard.
Similarly, longitudinal studies implicitly assume that trust is the result of a historical comparison or held to a longitudinally equivalent standard. This may explain why cross-sectional and longitudinal studies sometimes reach different conclusions. Corruption and Perceptions of Fairness In many ways corrupt practices are antithetical to political trust. Widespread corruption undermines efficiency and effectiveness.
It implies an absence of moral scruples. It thrives on an institutionalized lack of accountability. And corruption invokes uncertainty and inequality both at the macro level policies that are agreed upon by government and at the micro level the implementation of these policies in daily life. As such, corruption is the epitome of bad-quality government.
It is therefore not surprising that political trust is the major explanation of cross-national differences in political trust. Trust rates are substantially lower in countries where corruption is high. Hakhverdian and Mayne find that corruption strongly undermines political trust among the most educated but does not have a significant effect among the lowest educated.
Those who have had to pay bribes to the justice system, who perceive government as corrupt, or who perceive government as incapable as dealing with corruption are more likely to distrust politics.
Uslaner provides an overview of the effects of corruption perceptions and experiences across a wide variety of regions and—democratic and non-democratic—regimes across the globe, concluding that the relationship between corruption and distrust tends to be universal.
The quality of government is also assessed via perceptions of procedural fairness. Direct interactions with decision-makers or civil servants are relevant for political trust. Grimes provides an overview of this booming literature, showing that the quality of government matters.
Political Trust and the “Crisis of Democracy”
One element of this procedural fairness, however, may be a double-edged sword. While transparency is an important democratic value in itself, it does not have an unconditional positive effect on political trust: All in all, corruption and procedural fairness are consistent explanations of political trust, in both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.
Macroeconomic Performance Governmental performance has long been considered a relevant cause of political trust. Surprisingly, though, empirical analyses largely restricted themselves to one specific set of performance indicators, namely macroeconomic outcomes. Surely, macroeconomic performance is a consistently salient issue among citizens.
Yet while governments are held accountable for the state of the economy by their citizens, their options to affect macroeconomic outcomes via national policies have steadily declined over the last few decades. While subjective perceptions of macroeconomic outcomes are consistently related to political trust at the micro level and political trust fluctuates parallel to consumer confidence at the macro level, scholars have not been able to find consistent effects objective macroeconomic outcomes on political trust.
Regardless of the macroeconomic performance indicator under study, findings have remained mixed at best. Some find significant effects, others find none, or even see evidence for inverse effects.
There are various reasons for the disparity of findings. First, while cluster correction and multilevel models have become common over the last decade, earlier studies often relied on less strict methodological designs that underestimated standard errors or conflated individual and contextual effects. Second, corruption is a major rival explanation of cross-national differences in political trust. But that does not hold for studies that make a longitudinal comparison: