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Do direct-democratic procedures lead to higher acceptance than political representation?

Author

Listed:
  • Emanuel V. Towfigh

    () (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
    EBS University for Business and Law)

  • Sebastian J. Goerg

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
    Florida State University)

  • Andreas Glöckner

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
    University of Hagen)

  • Philip Leifeld

    (University of Glasgow
    Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag)
    University of Bern)

  • Aniol Llorente-Saguer

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
    Queen Mary University of London)

  • Sophie Bade

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
    Royal Holloway University of London)

  • Carlos Kurschilgen

    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods)

Abstract

Are direct-democratic decisions more acceptable to voters than decisions arrived at through representative procedures? We conduct an experimental online vignette study with a German sample to investigate how voters’ acceptance of a political decision depends on the process through which it is reached. For a set of different issues, we investigate how acceptance varies depending on whether the decision is the result of a direct-democratic institution, a party in a representative democracy, or an expert committee. Our results show that for important issues, direct democracy generates greater acceptance; this finding holds particularly for those voters who do not agree with a collectively chosen outcome. However, if the topic is of limited importance to the voters, acceptance does not differ between the mechanisms. Our results imply that a combination of representative democracy and direct democracy, conditional on the distribution of issue importance among the electorate, may be optimal with regard to acceptance of political decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Emanuel V. Towfigh & Sebastian J. Goerg & Andreas Glöckner & Philip Leifeld & Aniol Llorente-Saguer & Sophie Bade & Carlos Kurschilgen, 2016. "Do direct-democratic procedures lead to higher acceptance than political representation?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 167(1), pages 47-65, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:167:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-016-0330-y
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-016-0330-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Benoît Maux, 2018. "On the Necessary and Sufficient Condition for Increasing Direct Participation Rights in Democracies: Comment on “Proposals for a Democracy of the Future” by Bruno S. Frey," Homo Oeconomicus: Journal of Behavioral and Institutional Economics, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 101-109, June.
    2. Schories, Fanny E., 2017. "Institutional Choice and Cooperation in Representative Democracies: An Experimental Approach," ILE Working Paper Series 9, University of Hamburg, Institute of Law and Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Direct democracy; Political parties; Acceptance; Representative procedures; Legitimacy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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