FACTORS OF POLITICAL INTEREST – THE INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL POLITICAL EFFICACY IN DIFFERENT REGIONS OF EUROPE
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The aim of the paper is to map differences among European citizens regarding their political interest. In addition to the standard question of political interest, the dataset of the 7th wave of the European Social Survey includes new questions about individual political competences and about the perception of the political system. Based on this data, citizens’ assessment of their countries political system and of their ability to participate in politics can contribute to a better understanding of differences among European countries concerning those factors that affect political interest. The paper first describes differences between the attitudes of citizens and their perception about their political systems from a European perspective. Then it examines how political interest is influenced by external and internal political efficiency. Our study has confirmed that internal and external political efficacy is correlated in almost all countries. We found that residents of a country who believe that they have their personal skills to influence politics are basically those who say that the political system accepts their demands and vice-versa. Overall, our research has confirmed that political interest stems from internal political efficiency, from cultural and learnable factors. External factors as political systems (openness and closeness) have a lesser influence on it, but it is undeniable that individual competences of citizens are consistently higher in systems that are more open. The traditional cultural differences of Europe's democracies, indicated by Inglehart, Huntington and Haller are still relevant in this regard.
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