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Myth and Reality of the Legitimacy CrisisExplaining Trends and Cross-National Differences in Established Democracies$
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Carolien van Ham, Jacques Thomassen, Kees Aarts, and Rudy Andeweg

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793717

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793717.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 16 May 2022

Legitimacy Decline and Party Decline

Legitimacy Decline and Party Decline

(p.76) 5 Legitimacy Decline and Party Decline
Myth and Reality of the Legitimacy Crisis

Rudy B. Andeweg

David M. Farrell

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the decline of political parties as a possible cause of the decline of legitimacy. Political parties constitute a link between the citizens and the political system, and therefore a loss of support could delegitimize the political system. However, the decline of political parties can only cause legitimacy decline if they are indeed in decline and if there is a causal relationship between citizens’ involvement in political parties and political support. The chapter argues that empirical evidence for party decline is limited, as parties may have undergone transformation rather than decline. Using ESS data from 2002 to 2010, the chapter finds only weak relations between political support and party membership and party closeness. However, being close to a particular party is more important than being a member of a political party, and is interpreted as a sign that the party system facilitates citizens in making meaningful political choices.

Keywords:   party decline, political parties, party membership, party closeness, political support, satisfaction with democracy, political trust

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