Knowing and distrusting: how political trust and knowledge shape direct-democratic participation

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    This article examines how factual political knowledge and political trust shape direct-democratic involvement in the form of supporting citizens’ initiatives in Finland. Previous studies have debated the relative merits of cognitive mobilization and political dissatisfaction as predictors of support for direct democracy. This study builds on these efforts, but it extends the scope of analysis to examine reported participation in rather than support for direct democracy. The study relies on data from the most recent round of the Finnish National Election Study from 2015 (FNES2015) to study these questions with binary logistic regression analyses. The results suggest that both factual political knowledge and political trust have the expected relationships with direct-democratic involvement. However, their effects are stronger when they interact and pull in the same direction to shape the propensity of involvement. This indicates that proposals for citizens’ initiatives are generally the work of knowledgeable, but critical, citizens.

    Original languageUndefined/Unknown
    Pages (from-to)572–594
    JournalEuropean Societies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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