Does Regulation Make Political Parties More Popular? A Multi-level Analysis of Party Support in Europe

Authors: Paul Whiteley | Published in: working paper series on the legal regulation of political parties, no. 34, July. | Date of publication: 2013

This paper examines the relationship between party regulation, trust in political parties and partisanship in twenty-four European democracies in 2010. It tests two rival hypotheses, one suggesting that the regulation of political parties improves support for them among electorates, and the other arguing the opposite case that regulation inhibits support for parties. These hypotheses are tested using a multi-level modelling strategy which controls for a number of variables which might account for trust in parties and partisanship at the individual level. The evidence suggests that heavy regulation of political parties is associated with low levels of trust in parties and fewer partisans in these countries. The analysis uses cross sectional data and so definitive causal relationships cannot be fully identified, but the data implies that regulation by the state in the context of a severe economic recession could be having the effect of stifling support for political parties and weakening civil society.

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