Narrowing the Legitimacy Gap: Turnovers as a Cause of Democratic Consolidation
Journal of Politics, Vol. 71, No. 4, pp. 1448-1466, 2009
19 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2011
Date Written: October 2009
Democratic consolidation depends on common perceptions of institutional legitimacy among citizens aligned with governing and opposition parties. Elections always result in winners and losers, but if they also create subservient insiders and aggrieved outsiders, the future of the democratic system will be uncertain. This article theorizes about why certain electoral qualities (elections that produce turnovers, are peaceful, accepted by opposition parties, and free and fair) should reduce winner-loser gaps in perceived institutional legitimacy. The hypotheses are tested using a hierarchical two-step statistical procedure to analyze three rounds of Afrobarometer microlevel data combined with national-level data on African elections between 1989 and 2006. The analyses indicate that electoral turnovers (and only turnovers) have a significant moderating effect on the citizenry. Following alternations of power, winners and losers converge in their attitudes about their institutions, thus furthering the consolidation of democracy.
Keywords: turnover, democracy, democratic consolidation, democratization, elections, public opinion
JEL Classification: O10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation