Measuring Political Participation in Southern Europe: The Varieties of Democracy Approach

39 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2015 Last revised: 24 May 2016

See all articles by Tiago Fernandes

Tiago Fernandes

Nova University of Lisbon

João Cancela

Nova University of Lisbon

Michael Coppedge

University of Notre Dame - Kellogg Institute; University of Notre Dame, Department of Political Science

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Allen Hicken

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science

Date Written: November 1, 2015

Abstract

Most schools of democratic theory consider political participation to have a positive impact in deepening democracy. Political participation makes democracies more accountable and freer, as well as creating more engaged, civic minded and public spirited citizens. It has been observed that in regimes where citizens lack capacity for self-organization and political engagement this contributes to a lower quality of their democratic regimes and institutions.

Moreover, this connection is even more vital in democratizing settings and new democracies, like the Southern European countries of Portugal, Spain, and Greece. Research has shown that in democracies that emerged after a long experience of authoritarianism there will be a lower capacity for mobilization of citizens. Democratic regimes may became established, with the minimal requirements (freedom of the press, civil and political liberties, a functioning party system, free and fair elections), but they will have a lower quality because there will be very weak attachments of citizens to its institutions. After the euphoria of participation during the transition, desencanto (disenchantment, disappointment) settles in, estranging citizen’s from the democratic process. Contrary to older democracies, where political participation tended to grow steadily after the transition and for decades, in new democracies the high levels of participation of the transition give place to very weak levels of participation. Even more troubling, new democracies are also characterized by strong inequalities in participation, which affect especially popular groups and the poor, but also the middle classes.

Suggested Citation

Fernandes, Tiago and Cancela, João and Coppedge, Michael and Lindberg, Staffan I. and Hicken, Allen, Measuring Political Participation in Southern Europe: The Varieties of Democracy Approach (November 1, 2015). V-Dem Working Paper 2015:15. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2692553 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2692553

Tiago Fernandes (Contact Author)

Nova University of Lisbon ( email )

Lisbon, 1099-085
Portugal

João Cancela

Nova University of Lisbon ( email )

Avenida de Berna, 26-C
Lisbon, 1069-061
Portugal

Michael Coppedge

University of Notre Dame - Kellogg Institute ( email )

Hesburgh Center
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

University of Notre Dame, Department of Political Science

216 Hesburgh Center
Notre Dame, IN New South Wales 46556-5646
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.nd.edu/~mcoppedg/crd

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

Allen Hicken

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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