Comparative European Politics

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 209–232 | Cite as

Political participation in European countries: The effect of authoritarian rule, corruption, lack of good governance and economic downturn

  • Marc Hooghe
  • Ellen Quintelier
Original Article


Two decades after democratic transition, political participation levels in Central and Eastern Europe remain significantly lower than in Western European countries. Although some authors invoke the socialization of citizens under authoritarian regimes as a cause, others hint at the fact that these countries still experience corruption, lack of good governance and low levels of economic development. In this article, we test both theoretical claims, by conducting a multilevel analysis on the full sample of the European Social Survey in the period 2002–2008, introducing a distinction between institutionalized and non-institutionalized forms of participation. The analysis demonstrates that, controlling for all relevant individual level characteristics, an authoritarian legacy, the perception of corruption, bad governance and low income levels have a negative impact on participation levels. Controlling for corruption levels and lack of good governance, the effect of an authoritarian legacy is rendered non-significant. An analysis by age and cohort suggests that the effect of current experiences with corruption are more powerful than the effect of an authoritarian legacy. As such, our findings support the claim that especially bad governance and corruption have a strong negative impact on civic engagement in Central and Eastern Europe.


political participation democratic transition political socialization corruption European Social Survey Central and Eastern Europe 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Hooghe
    • 1
  • Ellen Quintelier
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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