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SPP 386

Author: Richard Rose
Description: Democratic citizens would like to have trustworthy institutions, and governors want to be trusted, because this can strengthen their capacity for governance, since citizens who trust are more likely to give their governors the benefit of the doubt when unpopular decisions are taken. But trust cannot be taken for granted. The first section of this paper shows that there is a substantial amount of scepticism or distrust in political institutions by citizens of most European countries. Since distrust is often thought to make people abstain from politics, the second section looks at turnout at elections in European countries since 1945. The evidence shows there are substantial variations in turnout between countries and over time within countries. Trust is depressed when citizens believe that politicians do not care about people like themselves and are dissatisfied about how the national economy is managed. Characteristics of a country's political institutions tend to depress turnout.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland