Political trust and trust in the election process

Working Paper No.: 
19
Date Published: 
08/01/2011
Author(s): 
Leontine Loeber
University of Leiden

Voter confidence in election results is of the utmost importance for the legitimacy of the chosen legislators. When the trustworthiness of the techniques and methods that are used during the elections become subject of debate, this can have a negative impact on the confidence of voters. Previous research has shown that the level of trust in the election process in the Netherlands is not determined by a ‘winner-loser’ effect and that demographic variables only have a weak influence. This study shows that the level of political trust however is an explanatory factor for trust in the election process. Also, all three components of political trust; trust in politicians, trust in institutions and trust in democracy, are of significant influence on the trust in the election process. Finally, social trust does not have a significant influence on the trust in the election process during the 2010 parliamentary elections.
The addition of political trust to the model for trust in the election process has greatly improved the ability of the model to predict the level of trust in the election process. When only the independent variable political trust is used, the explanatory level of the model is 21.7%. After adding the demographic variables, this level goes up to 24.4%. Compared to a model that only includes demographic variables with an explanatory level of 13.4%, the current model shows an improvement of 11%. However, this expanded model still does not have a very high explanatory value. This indicates that there are still other factors that influence the level of trust that a voter has in the election process. Further research will be necessary to find these factors.

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