Martini, S. and M. Quaranta. ‘Political support among winners and losers: Within- and between-country effects of structure, process and performance in Europe.’ European Journal of Political Research (2018)
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Abstract

Why is the winner‐loser gap in political support wider in some countries and narrower in others? Previous studies have focused on how the input side of political systems (i.e., the institutional structure) affects the winner‐loser gap. This study suggests that one should also consider the output side (i.e., the quality of political process and economic performance) and posits that two mechanisms – rational and psychological – can explain how output factors affect the gap. Going beyond previous research, this article also considers whether contextual characteristics explain the variation in the gap not only between countries, but also within them. Applying mixed models to survey data from 30 European countries between 2002 and 2015, the study finds that the differences in support between winners and losers across countries are smaller in consensual systems, as in these contexts the support among losers is higher. However, changes in the institutional structure do not explain the over‐time variation in the winner‐loser gap. Moreover, increasing quality of process and economic performance do not attenuate the gap across countries and over time, as they affect positively the political support of both winners and losers. The study shows which contextual factors explain the winner‐loser gap and points to the conditions that increase losers’ consent, which is a crucial element of democratic legitimacy.

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