Public trust in citizens' juries when the people decide on policies: evidence from Switzerland


Facilitative political trust is the reduction in cognitive demand citizens experience when forming their opinions about political issues. This type of trust is important for generating legitimate democratic institutions in the eyes of politically uninvolved citizens. The article develops and validates an original direct measure of facilitative political trust among voters receiving a voting aid compiled by a Swiss municipal-level deliberative minipublic convening twenty citizens ahead of a federal popular initiative vote. Based on perceiving the randomly selected group as competent and aligned with voters’ interests, we find a reliable and valid latent trust measure using confirmatory factor analyses on a sample of voters within the municipality at two points during a campaign ahead of a vote on expanding affordable housing policies (N=1159) and with the same sample around the time of the ballot (N=472). In subsequent multiple regressions, increases in facilitative trust sores are the main driver of readers’ ratings regarding the voting aid’s usefulness for deciding how to vote and for how important they judge its information for their peers’ vote decisions.

Public trust in citizens’ juries when the people decide on policies: evidence from Switzerland
Alexander M. Geisler
Alexander M. Geisler
Postdoctoral researcher

I do research on the theory and practice of political communicatio and participatory innovations.