Abstract: Electoral ‘winners’ (i.e., voters casting a ballot for a party included in the post-electoral government) are acknowledged to be more satisfied with democracy than supporters of opposition parties. However, little is known about the influence of parties and their specifics on the boost in satisfaction with democracy experienced by their voters. To address this question, the research utilizes 17 surveys from 12 countries included in the European Social Survey rounds 1–8, for which a government replacement took place during the survey period. This allows this research to employ discontinuity design and examine the effect of two attributes related to parties—differences in party vote shares, and voters’ feeling of closeness to a party. The findings suggest that these factors have a negligible influence on voters’ satisfaction with democracy and only scant evidence is found that closeness to a party tends to increase their satisfaction. When voters’ attitudes from before and after a government replacement are compared, changes in government do not seem to strike voters as a surprise and thus they do not cause any sudden and lasting changes in the general attitudes of electorates. Nevertheless, this indicates a novel contribution to the literature: the effect of losing needs some time to fully develop until it results in a decrease in satisfaction level. Based on these findings, the research concludes that when it comes to parties’ characteristics, it is primarily the government/opposition status which determines voters’ degree of satisfaction with democracy.
Keywords: democracy; democratic quality; electoral behaviour; European Social Survey; government; political parties