Rahva usaldus parlamendi vastu Euroopa riikides
English title: Public trust towards national parliaments in European countries
Author(s): Andres Reiljan -
Type: Thesis / dissertation
The aim of this master thesis was to determine which variables and to what extent effect people’s trust towards their national parliaments. I concentrated on trust towards parliament, as parliament is perceived as a central political institution, a cornerstone and a symbol of democracy. Thus, attitudes towards parliament should indicate the general legitimacy of the political system in the eyes of the citizens. In my research, I take a multidimensional perspective towards political trust, considering it to be a result of an interplay between individual and macro level, as well as exogenous and endogenous (in relation to political system) variables. In empirical analysis I use up-to-date data from the 6th wave of European Social Survey, also combining it with some macro indicators of regime performance. Empirical results confirm the direct effects of most variables, except the political history of the country. Trust towards parliaments is higher in countries where the living standard is higher and which are perceived to be less corrupt. Problems with fiscal discipline might also have a negative effect on trust, starting from a certain threshold. GDP per capita, corruption perception index and a dummy variable for countries that have had an international bailout altogether explain 85% of the variance between trust scores among countries. On the individual level, results indiate that people with higher education and higher satisfaction with their household income; who are interested in politics and prioritize democracy highly; support government parties and are satisfied with the political and economic performance of the regime, have higher trust towards parliament. The dominant variable in the model is clearly satisfaction with the economic situation in the country. The unique effect of that variable is more than three times the size of any other variable. Thus, I also investigate which variables determine satisfaction with regime economic performance. I find that it is very strongly related to country level variables, as more than one third of the variation among individuals is attributable to country level. Also, feeling towards household income has a significant effect on it, as people who are not coping with their present income perceive also state economy as being in worse shape. It is noteworthy that egocentric and sociotropic economic evaluations are included in the same model to explain individual trust towards parliament, the former loses almost all of its effect. It is clear that there is a big overlap between the effect of these two variables on institutional trust. Thus, it is shown that individual economic perceptions mediate the effect of objective regime performance and also individual living conditions, giving empirical support to the theoretical model built in the first chapters of the thesis.
Awarding institution: University of Tartu
Number of pages: 109