Partisan legitimacy across generations
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In this paper we argue that parties shape their supporters' views about the political system via the messages they communicate about the desirability of the political system. Moreover, we contend that the effectiveness of such communication varies considerably across generations. Combining data from election surveys collected in 15 democracies as part of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES) project with data on the policy positions of 116 political parties collected by the Comparative Manifestos Project, we find that supporters of parties that express positive positions toward the political system report systematically higher levels of political legitimacy than supporters of parties that communicate negative views. Moreover, this communication is particularly effective among older party identifiers whose partisan identification tends to be more pronounced. Taken together, these findings suggest that political parties play an active role in shaping citizens' views of the political system but their success in mobilizing consent among citizens in contemporary democracies may weaken with partisan de-alignment and generational change. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Political system legitimacy