Political Trust and Satisfaction with Democracy in Greece in Comparative Perspective (1986-2020)

Hosted by the Hellenic Observatory

CBG.2.05, Centre Building, LSE


Professor Sofia Vassilopoulou

Professor Sofia Vassilopoulou


Professor Kevin Featherstone

Professor Kevin Featherstone

This seminar compares the development of political trust and satisfaction with democracy in Greece, Portugal and Spain.

These countries share a number of political, cultural and economic similarities. They are all European peripheral countries with similar levels of socioeconomic development, which became democracies during the third wave of democratization. They have experienced right-wing authoritarianism and are characterised by a strong left-right divide. Although, since democratization, they experienced periods of high trust in institutions and satisfaction with democracy, these have also been considerably volatile, and have declined dramatically during the economic crisis. At the same time, the three countries have experienced different paths of recovery. Whereas trust in institutions has been restored to pre-crisis levels in Portugal, it remains low in both Greece and Spain – despite a substantial economic recovery in Spain. Using data from Eurobarometer surveys between 1986-2020, this seminar seeks to address this puzzle by comparing levels of institutional trust and democratic satisfaction across the three countries over time and across different age groups. It also analyses how objective and subjective indicators of national economic performance influence institutional trust and satisfaction with democracy and how their effects are moderated by political variables related to the quality of democratic representation. The findings have implications for the study of institutional trust in third-wave European democracies. 

This work is in collaboration with Pablo Christmann (GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences) and Pedro C. Magalhães (University of Lisbon).

Meet our speaker and chair 

Sofia Vasilopoulou (PhD LSE) is a Professor of European Politics at King’s College London and Honorary Professor at the University of York. Her research is at the intersection of Comparative Politics and Political Behaviour. She studies the causes and consequences of political dissatisfaction among the public and the ways in which this is channelled through party strategies and party competition. She has published articles in leading international peer-reviewed journals, such as the European Journal of Political Research, European Union Politics, Journal of Common Market Studies, Journal of European Public Policy and West European Politics. She has authored Far Right Parties and Euroscepticism: Patterns of Opposition (ECPR Press and Rowman & Littlefield 2018) and co-authored The Golden Dawn's Nationalist Solution: Explaining the rise of the far right in Greece (Palgrave Macmillan 2015 with Daphne Halikiopoulou). She is Editor in Chief of the European Journal of Political Research.

Kevin Featherstone is Eleftherios Venizelos Professor in Contemporary Greek Studies and Professor in European Politics in the European Institute at LSE, where he is also Director of the Hellenic Observatory.

The twitter hashtag for this event is #LSEGreece


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The Hellenic Observatory (@HO_LSE)  is internationally recognised as one of the premier research centres on contemporary Greece and Cyprus. It engages in a range of activities, including developing and supporting academic and policy-related research; organisation of conferences, seminars and workshops; academic exchange through visiting fellowships and internships; as well as teaching at the graduate level through LSE's European Institute.

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