Christian Stecker, Markus Tausendpfund
Multidimensional government-citizen congruence and satisfaction with democracy

European Journal of Political Research, 2016: 55, issue 3, pp. 492-511
ISSN: 0304-4130 (print); 1475-6765 (online)

In the first comparative study of multidimensional government-citizen policy congruence, this article shows that citizens are less satisfied with democracy when their views differ from that of the government on policy dimensions beyond the general left-right axis. Satisfaction is reduced by a government that deviates on European integration and redistribution and partly also on social lifestyle, immigration and environmental protection. Furthermore, this analysis identifies the level of political interest as central moderator of this relationship. Satisfaction of citizens with stronger interest in politics suffers more when there is a politically distant government. Combining data from the 2010 Chapel Hill Expert Survey and two waves of the European Social Survey, the analysis builds on information on citizen-government policy congruence of some 45,000 citizens and 31 governments in 15 Western and Central Eastern European countries. The article brings a multidimensional perspective to the study of policy congruence between citizens and governments in a time when the preference structure of parties and citizens has become increasingly complex.