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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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    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Valentina Stöhr, 2022. "Climate protection in Germany: Party cues in a multi-party system," Munich Papers in Political Economy 23, Munich School of Politics and Public Policy and the School of Management at the Technical University of Munich.
    5. Fanny E. Schories, 2022. "The Influence of Indirect Democracy and Leadership Choice on Cooperation," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 25(4), pages 1173-1201, September.

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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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