Political mistrust in southern Europe since the Great Recession

Diego Muro*, Guillem Vidal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The political effects of the Great Recession on southern Europe were substantial. The rapid economic deterioration of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain from 2008 onwards was accompanied by an increase in citizens' dissatisfaction towards national political institutions. The sources of political mistrust in the southern periphery were of a political and economic nature. Using quantitative data from EU member states from 2000 to 2015, this paper evaluates the suitability of competing theories in explaining this shift in political attitudes in southern European countries. It first hypothesizes that political mistrust is explained by citizens' rationalist evaluations of changing macroeconomic performance. It also hypothesizes that political mistrust changes according to institutional performance. The paper argues that economic crises act as an external shock that places politics, politicians and institutions in the spotlight as a result of citizens' deteriorating performance of the economy. The findings suggest that unemployment, public debt and political corruption are key variables in understanding short-term changes in political mistrust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-217
Number of pages21
JournalMediterranean Politics
Issue number2
Early online date14 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Economic-performance
  • Civil-society
  • Trust
  • Democracies
  • Crisis
  • Responsiveness
  • Determinants
  • Support
  • Spain


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