Electoral Losers Revisited – How citizens react to defeat at the ballot box
Title: Electoral Losers Revisited – How citizens react to defeat at the ballot box
Author: ESAIASSON, Peter
Citation: Electoral Studies, 2011, 30, 1, 102-113, Special Symposium on Electoral Democracy in the European Union
Series/Number: [EUDO Public Opinion Observatory]
The paper seeks to reconcile insights from winner–loser gap research with mainstream understanding of election legitimacy. The paper acknowledges that winning and losing elections creates differential incentives for citizens to remain supportive of their political system, but it argues that losers nevertheless have enough reasons to remain supportive in absolute terms. Drawing on democratic theory, the paper develops a rationale for why citizens are willing to accept electoral defeat voluntarily, and suggest a new way to conceptualize citizen reactions to election outcomes. It presents findings from a sample of election studies in established democracies to show that winners typically become more supportive whereas losers at minimum retain their level of support from before the election. It concludes that elections, when reasonably well executed, as they most often are in established democracies, build system support rather than undermine it.
Table of Contents:
1. Why citizens may accept electoral defeat voluntarily 2. Are the conditions met in established democracies? 3. A conceptual clarification 4. Data and measurements 5. Findings 6. Current elections in established democracies 7. Long-term trends within a n
Publication based on research carried out in the framework of the European Union Democracy Observatory (EUDO) of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute.; The journal issue has been produced in the framework of the PIREDEU Project, one of the projects carried out by the EUDO Public Opinion Observatory.
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