Eva Heida Önnudottir, Olafur Th. Hardarson
Policy performance and satisfaction with democracy

Stjórnmál og stjórnsýsla (e. Icelandic Review of Politics & Administration, 2011: 7, Heft 2, S. 417-435
ISSN: 1670-679X

In this paper we examine how subjective perception of government’s policy performance affects satisfaction with how democracy works in Iceland. This we base on the argument that the public is aware of and evaluating the governments’ performance when the political system is faced with a major crisis that has been extensively publicly debated and triggered widespread protests. The financial and political crisis in Iceland 2008-09 provides an opportunity to examine if government performance can be seen as a causal factor explaining satisfaction with the democratic process. We take into account two alternative explanations; that satisfaction with how democracy works depends on citizens’ belief in how well the representative system works; and if they are more satisfied when their party is represented in government. Our principal conclusion is that subjective policy performance is the main explanation for citizens’ increased dissatisfaction with democracy during a severe crisis.