What prevents knowledge inequalities among citizens from increasing? Evidence from direct-democratic campaigns in Switzerland

Laurent Bernhard


This article seeks to enrich the normative debate on the advantages and drawbacks of direct democracy through an empirical analysis of individual learning about the contents of ballot propositions during campaigns. Following the knowledge gap paradigm, this article examines the factors that prevent socio-economic- knowledge inequalities among citizens from increasing. I argue that ballot propositions of low complexity exert a moderating influence, since such environments provide citizens with easy learning situations. The empirical analysis, based on panel survey data on three federal level votes that took place in Switzerland from 2006 to 2008, supports the issue complexity hypothesis.


Switzerland; direct democracy; campaigns; political knowledge

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.24434/j.scoms.2018.01.007


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Copyright (c) 2018 Laurent Bernhard

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Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896