The Status Quo Bias in Referendums
Sveinung Arnesen, Troy S. Broderstad, Mikael P. Johannesson, Jonas Linde
Chapter 1 Preface
This is the analysis report for the conjoint experiment of the Wiggle room study by Sveinung Arnesen, Troy S. Broderstad, Mikael P. Johannesson, and Jonas Linde. The experiment was fielded in France, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands as part of the 2017 European Internet Panel Study (EIPS); a collaboration between six European probability-based online survey panels. The 2017 joint survey wave was fielded in France by the L’ ́etude longitudinale par internet pour les sciences social sat Sciences Po, in Germany by the German Internet Panel at the University of Mannheim, in Iceland by the Social Science Research Institute Panel (University of Reykjavik), in The Netherlands by the Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences at CentERdata, in Norway by the Norwegian Citizen Panel at the University of Bergen, and in Sweden by the Swedish Citizen Panel (University of Gothenburg). The data was collected between 01 May 2017 to 10 Jan 2018.
This comparative study builds on a previous case study on EU referendums in Norway, published in the European Union Politics journal. Ít is part of the project “Can Fair Decision-Making Procedures Increase The Legitimacy of Democracies?”, funded by the Research Council of Norway (project no. 262986), and situated at NORCE – Norwegian Research Centre and the University of Bergen.
Summary of project: Although democracy is globally perceived as the only legitimate system of government, there is widespread discontent with the performance of democracy. One of the most striking developments in political culture during the last couple of decades has been the increase in “dissatisfied democrats”, i.e. citizens who believe in the core values of democracy but nonetheless remain dissatisfied with the way the democratic political system works in practice. On top of this, we have observed low, and in many countries decreasing, levels of trust in fundamental democratic institutions such as political parties and governments for quite some time all over the world, not least in the wake of the financial crisis. Arguably, the most pressing challenge to contemporary governance comes from the many citizens, who have grown distrustful of politicians and institutions, and express discontent with the performance of democratic government and the democratic process in itself. While the widespread public discontent with the functioning of democracy and its institutions is widely acknowledged among scholars, there is disagreement about the causes and effects. In a nutshell, the PROLEG project will address this issue and generate new knowledge that can be used to improve governance in the future. This will be accomplished by conducting experimental and observational studies on the mechanisms of accepting decision-making procedures. The data will mainly be generated within the unique infrastructure of DIGSSCORE at the University of Bergen. This core social science facility takes advantage of changes in technology and research methodology that combine to bring computer laboratory research and survey studies closer together.