Objective: The literature considers the importance of political sophistication for controlling political elites, although it disregards the role of ideological consistency. The objective of this article is to gain insight into the role of citizens’ ideological consistency as either an impairment to citizens’ ability or an effective tool in bringing about elite–mass congruence. Methods: Combining data from the European Social Survey (ESS) and the Comparative Manifesto Project (CMP) for 29 European countries, I implement an empirical strategy to disentangle the top-down and bottom-up processes of mutual influence between elites and citizens. Results: Consistent with the enabling (as opposed to the impairing) conception of ideological consistency, ideological consistency closes, rather than increases, the gap between the elites and the masses. Also, bottom-up models dominate top-down models regardless of electorates’ ideological consistency and information. Conclusion: Empirical findings challenge the literature about the causal effect of political ignorance on the autonomy of political elites, and they urge for the inclusion of ideological consistency as a crucial factor for a better understanding of the positional gaps between the elites and the masses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)