Miroslav Nemcok & Hanna Wass
As time goes by, the same sentiments apply? Stability of voter satisfaction with democracy during the electoral cycle in 31 countries
Popular consent is an essential element for success and stability of democracies. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that “electoral winners” (i.e. voters casting a ballot for government parties) are more satisfied with democracy than supporters of the opposition parties. However, little is known about the dynamics of satisfaction during the electoral cycle: Do winners become happier and losers even more discontent over time? We approach this question by utilizing an interview date in the European Social Survey (rounds 1–8) to position individuals within the different stages of electoral cycle. The results based on 199,207 responses from 199 surveys in 31 countries suggest that satisfaction with democracy stays relatively stable during the electoral cycle across various electoral systems if the political development is predictable. However, if actions of the parties are uncertain, namely the alternations of governments tend to be frequent, partial, and opened to all parties, and hence neither winners nor losers know how steady their status is with respect to the political development in the country, their satisfaction tend to fluctuate over time. Therefore, the conclusion reached is the more stable West European democracies have limited generalizability to the low-predictable systems in Central and Eastern Europe.