Direct Democracy Support: through thick or thin? A cross-country analysis into the relationship between left/right ideology, populism and direct democracy support.

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Representative democracy is under pressure: political trust, trust in parties and voter turnout have been on the decline. In order to remedy this crisis both politicians and academics have turned to different democratic institutionalizations to get the distrustful citizen back on board and engaged in politics. One of such institutionalizations is letting the citizen participate and decide on policy through avenues of direct democracy. In this research the previously theorized positive relationship between populist voters and direct democracy is refined in 3 ways: the biggest scale yet is used across 28 European democracies, populism is measured in a disaggregated manner to pinpoint exact characteristics that explain direct democracy support and the role of what populism travels with, left/right ideology, is investigated. Using a cross-country fixed effects OLS linear regression model the following expectations were tested: All three core-characteristics of populism (Anti-Elitism, Seeing the people as homogeneous & Manichean worldview) have a positive relationship with support for direct democracy and the more left-leaning a citizen is the more supportive of direct democracy. Finally a moderation was expected where the relationship between left/right ideology and direct democracy support would reversely moderated by each populist characteristic. The findings show that there is little variance in support for direct democracy among individuals and that this support is generally high with all respondents. Despite the little variance it is found that Anti-Elitism significantly predicts a higher support for direct democracy. For the other hypotheses no significant effect was found.
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