Myth and Reality of the Legitimacy Crisis: Explaining Trends and Cross-National Differences in Established Democracies

ISBN : 9780198793717

Jacques Thomassen; Kees Aarts; Rudy Andeweg
304 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Sep 2017
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Theories about the decline of legitimacy or a legitimacy crisis are as old as democracy itself. Yet, representative democracy still exists, and the empirical evidence for a secular decline of political support in established democracies is limited, questionable, or absent. This lack of conclusive evidence calls into question existing explanatory theories of legitimacy decline. How valid are theories of modernization, globalization, media malaise, social capital, and party decline, if the predicted outcome (i.e. secular decline of political support) does not occur? And which (new) explanations can account for the empirical variation in political support in established democracies? This book systematically evaluates the empirical evidence for legitimacy decline in established democracies, the explanatory power of theories of legitimacy decline, and promises new routes in investigating and assessing political legitimacy. In doing so, the book provides a broad and thorough reflection on the state of the art of legitimacy research, and outlines a new research agenda on legitimacy.


PART 1: Legitimacy and Representative Democracy: State of the Art, Concepts, and Trends
1 Jacques Thomassen and Carolien van Ham: A legitimacy Crisis of Democracy?
2 Carolien van Ham and Jacques Thomassen: The Myth of Legitimacy Decline: An Empirical Evaluation of Trends in Political Support in Established Democracies

Part 2: What is Wrong with Theories of Legitimacy Decline? Re-Appraising Existing Theories
3 Kees Aarts, Carolien van Ham, and Jacques Thomassen: Modernization, Globalization, and Satisfaction with Democracy
4 Marc Hooghe and Anna Kern: Social Capital and the Development of Political Support in Europe
5 Rudy Andeweg and David Farrell: Legitimacy Decline and Party Decline
6 Peter van Aelst: Media Malaise and the Decline of Legitimacy: Any Room for Good News?

Part 3: Diverging Trends? Explaining Within and Between Country Differences in Political Support
7 Shaun Bowler: Institutions and Political Support: How Much Do Institutions Matter?
8 Tom van der Meer: Dissecting the Causal Chain from Quality of Government to Political Support
9 Pedro Magalhaes: Economic Outcomes, Quality of Governance, and Satisfaction with Democracy
10 Peter Esaiasson, Mikael Gilljam, and Mikael Persson: Political Support in the Wake of Policy Controversies
Reflections and Conclusions
11 Rudy Andeweg and Kees Aarts: Studying Political Legitimacy: Findings, Implications and an Uneasy Question

About the author: 

Carolien van Ham is a Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the University of New South Wales. Her research focuses on legitimacy and political representation, election integrity and democratization. She has published articles in numerous scholarly journals such as the European Journal of Political Research, Democratization, Government and Opposition, West European Politics, and Electoral Studies. ; Jacques Thomassen is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Twente and a member of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. His publications include Elections and Representative Democracy (OUP, 2014), The Legitimacy of the European Union after Enlargement (OUP, 2009), and The European Voter.; Kees Aarts is Professor of Political Science at the University of Twente and University of Groningen, and Dean of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences at the University of Groningen. His publications include Political Leaders and Democratic Elections (co-edited with Andre Blais and Herman Schmitt, OUP, 2011), and he currently servces as co-editor of Acta Politica.; Rudy Andeweg is Professor of Political Science at Leiden University and a member of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is Chair of the European Consortium for Political Research 2015-2018. His publications include Governance and Politics of the Netherlands, fourth edition (co-authored with Galen A. Irwin, Palgrave, 2014), and Puzzles of Government Formation (co-edited with Lieven De Winter and Patrick Dumont, Routledge, 2011).

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