A scandal effect? Local scandals and political trust

Caroline Close, Jérémy Dodeigne, Sofie Henneau, Min Reuchamps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scandals that hit political institutions and their actors are likely to contribute to low- ering political trust. However, few studies examine the accuracy of such relation- ship at the local level. This article aims to contribute to the field by assessing the impact of local scandals on trust in local government and the mayor in the context of a federal state, Belgium. The research relies on an original dataset that includes a selection of municipalities that were hit by a scandal and of municipalities that were not in the running-up of the 2018 local elections. Our findings suggest the exist- ence of a ‘scandal effect’ on voters’ trust in local government and mayor. First, trust in local institutions appears significantly lower in municipalities that were hit by a scandal. Second, the effect of scandals at the individual level appears to be rein- forced by voters’ perception of trustworthiness of local politicians: scandals more significantly affect trust in local government among voters who evaluate negatively local politicians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-236
Number of pages25
JournalActa Politica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Belgium
  • Exit poll
  • Local politics
  • Political trust
  • Scandals Belgium


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