Only losers use excuses? Exploring the association between the winner-loser gap and referendum attitudes following a local referendum

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Consultative referendums are becoming more widely used as a way of responding to rising public discontent with the workings of representative democracy. Consequently, consultative referendums have become an integral part of democratic decision-making processes across the world. However, how the population reacts to the referendum outcome is expected to differ among the population as referendums, by design, divides the participants into winners and losers. In turn, creating a winner-loser gap with potentially polarizing societal consequences. This study therefore seeks to explore how this winner-loser gap is associated with several types of referendum attitudes following the outcome of a local referendum. Using survey data (N = 3113) gathered after a high stakes local referendum in Finland, the more explicit research purpose is therefore to analyze how individual-level opinions about referendums, turnout thresholds and margin of victory thresholds are related to the winner-loser gap. Additionally, we also control for whether these associations are moderated by external efficacy and political trust. The results clearly imply that the winner-loser gap have consequences for several types of referendum attitudes, contributing to scholarship about the effects derived from the winner-loser gap.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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