How might reform of the political system appeal to discontented citizens?

Ben Seyd, John Curtice, Jonathan Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


In Britain, levels of political trust have declined, stimulating policy makers to explore ways of appealing to discontented citizens. One such initiative involves reform of the political system. Yet, this raises the question of which types of political reform are likely to appeal to discontented citizens. Existing studies have examined how individuals respond to political reforms, yet these studies only consider a limited range of institutional changes. Scholars and policy makers thus know little about the popular appeal of a wider set of institutional reforms. Taking advantage of proposals for political reform in Britain, this article considers public reactions to a wide range of institutional changes. Using data from the 2011 British Social Attitudes survey, we find that direct democratic reforms are not the only changes that appeal to discontented citizens. Instead, policy makers may also appeal to the distrustful via reforms that allow voters more control over their political representatives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-284
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Journal of Politics and International Relations
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


  • direct democracy
  • institutional reform
  • political discontent
  • political trust

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