Allure or Alternative? Direct Democracy and Party Identification
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.
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