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

Emanuel V. Towfigh (), Sebastian Goerg (), Andreas Glöckner, Philip Leifeld, Aniol Llorente-Saguer (), Sophie Bade and Carlos Kurschilgen
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Emanuel V. Towfigh: Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Andreas Glöckner: Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Philip Leifeld: University of Glasgow
Sophie Bade: Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Carlos Kurschilgen: Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Public Choice, 2016, vol. 167, issue 1, No 4, 47-65

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: Direct democracy; Political parties; Acceptance; Representative procedures; Legitimacy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1007/s11127-016-0330-y

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