Trust in Democratic Institutions: Evidence and Explanations Beyond Unification
This chapter examines trust in democratic institutions. The chapter argues that representative democracy is founded on a relationship between citizens and state premised on trust. Trust is important for two reasons: (1) sovereignty is transferred from the people to a legislative body, meaning that the stability and vitality depend, in part, upon trust; and (2) trust serves as a creator of collective power, enabling leaders to make commitments on the basis of it and govern more effectively. Multivariate models confirm that trust in democratic institutions is multidimensional. The research pinpoints its values-based components, its rootedness in civil society, its performance-based aspects and its grounding in political partisanship. In addition, the research not only shows that trust differ between the east and the west, but that it is conditioned by different theoretical mechanisms. The findings have implications for democratic reform and for research about cultivating trust in new democracies.