Winning, losing, and the quality of democracy

Richard Nadeau, Jean François Daoust*, Ruth Dassonneville

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Citizens who voted for a party that won the election are more satisfied with democracy than those who did not. This winner–loser gap has recently been found to vary with the quality of electoral democracy: the higher the quality of democracy, the smaller the gap. However, we do not know what drives this relationship. Is it driven by losers, winners, or both? And Why? Linking our work to the literature on motivated reasoning and macro salience and benefiting from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems project—covering 163 elections in 51 countries between 1996 and 2018, our results show that the narrower winner–loser gap in well-established electoral democracies is not only a result of losers being more satisfied with democracy, but also of winners being less satisfied with their victory. Our findings carry important implications since a narrow winner–loser gap appears as a key feature of healthy democratic systems.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalPolitical Studies
Early online date12 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • abstainers
  • electoral democracy
  • losers
  • motivated reasoning
  • quality of democracy
  • satisfaction with democracy
  • winners

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