Trust in representative democracy and protest behavior: a multilevel analysis of European democracies.

EUI Working Paper MWP 2013/14. (Co-authored with Daniela Braun)

The relationship between trust in representative political institutions and extra-representational protest behavior is contested. For some time, scholars have assumed that distrust is a major source of protest behavior. However, another interpretation highlights that protest has become normalized over time. Thus far, empirical studies have yielded mixed and inconclusive results. This working paper contributes to the debate by linking it to recent studies on how contextual factors both affect the amount of protest and interact with individual-level predictors. More specifically, we consider the institutional and cultural openness of political systems as a key contextual factor. With a multilevel analysis of 21 European countries, we show that citizens who distrust the national parliament, a key institution of representative democracy, are indeed more likely to take part in protest activities. Moreover, in open political contexts, citizens are more likely to protest, and we find a stronger negative micro-level association between political trust and protest behavior.

» Link to the working paper