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Identifying the nature, magnitude and sources of public support for political parties in Portugal: An individual-level analysis

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This article reviews the case of the oft-claimed ‘crisis of parties’ in Portugal, and argues that such controversy rests at least in part on ‘ambiguous’ evidence. We will try to answer three fundamental questions: (1) how do Portuguese citizens view and evaluate political parties? (2) What are the sources of public support for political parties in Portugal? And (3) why does anti-party rhetoric resonate with some citizens, but not others? The analysis of empirical data allows the following conclusions. First, citizens’ attitudes towards the parties have a multi-dimensional nature, so it is possible to distinguish two key dimensions conceptually and empirically: diffuse support and specific support for parties. Second, the two types of public support for parties have different sources at the individual level. Third, in the eyes of the Portuguese citizen, parties became a kind of ‘necessary evil’, being criticised for ‘what they actually do’ and supported for ‘what they are supposed to do’.

Keywords: anti-party sentiments; political parties; political support; public opinion

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Instituto Superior de Ciências Sociais e Políticas, Lisboa, Portugal 2: Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Viseu, Portugal

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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  • The Portuguese Journal of Social Science opens a gateway for the international community to engage with a high calibre of academic work in social sciences produced by Portuguese scholarship. Previous to the publication of this journal, this work remained largely inaccessible to an international readership due to issues with language and translation.
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