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Why don’t citizens give governments credit when they deliver on electoral pledges?

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Why don’t citizens give governments credit when they deliver on electoral pledges? This article develops an original analytical framework that addresses this important but under-researched question. It focuses on the concept of ‘credit claiming’, which is the opposite of ‘blame shifting’, and draws together existing research to identify a number of significant hurdles that governments must overcome in order to gain recognition for achievements. It highlights the challenges which policymakers face in communicating with citizens in an increasingly mediatised public sphere, and the extent to which their credit claiming efforts rely on the media as a ‘transmission belt’. It concludes that in liberal democracies governments are fighting an uphill battle to gain citizens’ support and secure trust in broader democratic institutions and the political system as a whole.
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Keywords: communication; credit claiming; government performance; mediatised public sphere; pledge fulfilment; policy implementation; policy promises; public trust

Affiliations: 1: University of Kaiserslautern, Germany 2: Bavarian School for Public Policy, TU Munich, Germany

Appeared or available online: February 10, 2020

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