Corruption and Political Participation
Based on an understanding of political participation as key for a functioning democracy, the paper examines the relationship between corruption perceptions and political participation. Founded on previous literature on the negative effects of corruption on our attitudes towards democracy, legitimacy of political institutions, and political trust, the paper argues for corruption as also having a negative effect on our political behavior. A causal mechanism is specified, in which external political efficacy has a mediating effect on the posited relationship - corruption makes citizens feel as if they have no influence on politics, when decisions are made corruptly, which in turn lower our propensity to engage in political participation. Political participation is operationalized as three separate dependent variables: institutionalised participation; non institutionalised participation; and voter turnout. Data is collected from the ISSP survey, covering 29299 individuals in 33 countries. Due to the clustered data, multilevel analyses are performed on each dependent variable. The results indicate that corruption perceptions have a dampening effect on voter turnout. At country-level, the aggregated corruption measure displays a strong negative effect on non-institutionalised participation, whereas no significant effect of corruption is found for institutionalised participation. Path analyses also reveal external efficacy as a mediator. Further research would benefit from more developed survey items as well as more levels of analysis.
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