Who is willing to participate? Dissatisfied democrats, stealth democrats and populists in the United Kingdom


Address for correspondence: Paul Webb, Department of Politics, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SN, UK. E-mail: p.webb@sussex.ac.uk


This article demonstrates that two quite distinctive types of political disaffection – ‘dissatisfied democratic’ and ‘stealth democratic’ – exist among British citizens, with the former being more prevalent. While both types manifest low trust in political elites, the dissatisfied democrat is politically interested, efficacious and desires greater political participation, while the contrary is generally true of the stealth democrat. However, stealth democrats are favourably disposed towards direct democracy, which can be attributed to the populist nature of stealth democratic attitudes. Even so, when given the opportunity to take part in a national referendum, neither stealth democrats nor dissatisfied democrats showed much inclination to vote.