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Jilke, S. (2018) Citizen satisfaction under changing political leadership: The role of partisan motivated reasoning Governance. 31(3), 515-533



There exists a gap in our understanding of what citizen satisfaction evaluations actually represent. While recent years have witnessed a move away from performance-based models to cognitive-implicit models of citizen satisfaction, the inherent political nature of government, its institutions and services has been largely ignored. Drawing upon the functional responsibility chain between political principals and governmental, public service delivering institutions, we outline a theory of citizen satisfaction that accounts for the political nature of these institutions. In the context of two consecutive general elections we find a partisan bias in citizen satisfaction with government and the legislative branch, but not for institutions that are more clearly separated from national government. These mixed findings are suggestive of a dispersion effect of the partisan bias in citizen satisfaction, namely that citizens are less likely to use their partisan lenses in cases where the responsibility of political principals is dispersed across multiple actors.

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