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Allure or Alternative? Direct Democracy and Party Identification

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  • Matthias Fatke

Abstract

This paper presents the first investigation of whether and how party identification is influenced by direct democratic institutions. The concept of party identification is of central interest to political science. Despite declining partisan attachment and increasing dealignment among voters, little systematic evidence exists as to which factors influence individual party identification. Our paper contributes to improving on this lacuna by considering the educative effects of direct democratic institutions. Theoretically, two competing hypotheses are plausible. On the one hand, direct democracy might strengthen political parties and promote the need for cues so that voters succumb to the allure of partisan attachment. On the other hand, direct democracy might provide an alternative to the representational function of political parties thus rendering party identification less essential. Drawing on recent data from the Swiss cantons, we estimate multilevel models. Our analyses, though giving support to the alternative-hypothesis, yield some surprising findings.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Fatke, 2013. "Allure or Alternative? Direct Democracy and Party Identification," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 4, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:bss:wpaper:4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brambor, Thomas & Clark, William Roberts & Golder, Matt, 2006. "Understanding Interaction Models: Improving Empirical Analyses," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 14(1), pages 63-82, January.
    2. Feld, Lars P. & Kirchgassner, Gebhard, 2000. "Direct democracy, political culture, and the outcome of economic policy: a report on the Swiss experience," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 287-306, June.
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    4. Mendelsohn, Matthew & Cutler, Fred, 2000. "The Effect of Referendums on Democratic Citizens: Information, Politicization, Efficacy and Tolerance," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(4), pages 669-698, October.
    5. Shaun Bowler & Stephen P. Nicholson & Gary M. Segura, 2006. "Earthquakes and Aftershocks: Race, Direct Democracy, and Partisan Change," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 50(1), pages 146-159, January.
    6. John Matsusaka, 2005. "The eclipse of legislatures: Direct democracy in the 21st century," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(1), pages 157-177, July.
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    Keywords

    Direct democracy; Party identification; Political parties; Dealignment; Educative effects;
    All these keywords.

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