Citizens’ Confidence in European Parliaments: Institutions and Issues

  • Karin Dyrstad
  • Ola Listhaug


Parliament is a key institution in democracy and the main arena for inter-party politics. Citizens’ confidence in parliament is an important indicator for how democracy works in society. In this chapter, we present an overview of recent research on comparative trends in voters’ confidence in European parliaments in the last quarter century. We also compare trends for confidence in parliament and other political institutions with private institutions like major companies and the press. The literature has pursued explanations for variations in political trust in several directions. Building on the early studies by Miller, several scholars have explained the decline of trust from the evolvement of policy distance between government elites and citizens. In discussion and analysis, this chapter includes factors at the individual level as well as the national, aggregated level. Our main interest lies in the effect of political institutions and policy issues on political trust. While mature democracies see only smaller variations in confidence over time, there are larger fluctuations and decline in post-Communist Europe. Contrary to our expectations, institutional factors do not explain much of the differences in confidence in parliament in Europe, while policy issues play an important role.


Political trust Political support New democracies Political parties European politics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Political ScienceNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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