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French Politics

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 389–417 | Cite as

Conceptions of democracy, political representation and socio-economic well-being: explaining how French citizens assess the degree of democracy of their regime

  • Camille Bedock
  • Sophie Panel
Original Article

Abstract

This paper investigates the determinants of citizens’ assessment of the degree of democracy in France, based on the ESS Round 6 data. A substantial share of respondents claims that France is barely democratic or not democratic at all, while still another nonnegligible share gives France the highest possible score on a 11-point democracy scale. We find that democracy assessment is mostly driven by political variables and by policy evaluations rather than by respondents’ own social and economic status. Individuals who endorse a minimal definition of democracy are overall less critical of their political system. We also find that respondents who identify with the current government party are consistently more likely to rate France higher on the democracy scale, while voters who identify with a non-governing party do not rate France differently from those who do not feel close to any party. Respondents who consider that the government adequately fights income inequalities are much more likely to consider France democratic. Finally, results regarding the impact of respondents’ socio-economic status are inconclusive.

Keywords

Attitudes toward democracy European Social Survey Critical citizens’ hypothesis Instrumental support hypothesis Sore loser hypothesis 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We want to warmly thank Isabelle Guinaudeau and Céline Bélot for their very useful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript during the seminar “Entre politique et marché : penser la contrainte économique” organized in Bordeaux in January 2017.

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Libre de Bruxelles/CEVIPOLBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Sciences Po Bordeaux/Centre Emile DurkheimPessacFrance

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