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Sources of Party (Elite) Resentment

Thu, August 30, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Sheraton, Beacon H

Session Submission Type: Created Panel

Session Description

Party (elite) resentment among citizens is a central theme in both the societal debate and the scientific debate. In many representative democracies, political parties and politicians are among the least trusted institutions and are negatively assessed in the public opinion. Ferrin and Kriesi (2016) recently argued that the electoral dimension of representative democracy in which parties play a major role is under strong pressure and therefore needs to be re-examined. Yet the source of this resentment is not fully understood. Especially, the dynamic relationship between citizens and party elites is often overlooked.

Yet these are crucial aspects of the current challenges that representative democracies face. Recent populist critiques mostly target the process or feeling of being represented and fuel attacks on parties and representatives, more than they challenge the quality of substantive representation. Above and beyond criticisms towards specific policies, populism antagonizes the relation between citizens and their representatives, fostering feelings of democratic resentment. Understanding the sources of this resentment will shed new light on one of the most central contemporary challenges of representative democracies.

This panel aims at identifying and characterizing citizens' attitudes towards the contribution of parties to representative democracy: how do citizens assess the role of parties and party elites, and what drives their evaluations? Are there specific functions that parties exercise that are more negatively evaluated than others and why? How do they characterize party elites, and how do they perceive reforms and attempts of party elites to reconnect with citizens?

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