Governing Global Challenges

Citizens' Trust in Public and Political Institutions in Nepal

New article by Steinar Askvik, Ishtiaq Jamil (UiB) and Tek Nath Dhakal (Tribhuvan University). The article is published in International Political Science Review.

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This article examines patterns of popular trust in political and public institutions in Nepal. We ask to what extent such trust is linked, on one hand, to citizens’ social and political identities, and on the other hand, to citizens’ perceptions of institutional performance. Our findings demonstrate that trust in public institutions varies extensively. Trust is high for a number of professional institutions, such as schools and hospitals. It is also quite high for local government institutions. Trust in the parliament and the government is much lower. Furthermore, the analysis reveals a weak relationship between institutional trust and identity variables. Demographic and social characteristics of participants, such as caste, and religious and political affiliations, have little significance in explaining the level of citizens’ trust in political and public institutions. Such trust primarily depends upon how citizens assess the performance of these institutions. Hence, patterns of institutional trust depend on how participants evaluate the current macro-political situation in Nepal, whether recent political changes are judged to have gone in the right direction. In a more general and comparative perspective our findings from Nepal fit with a performance-based theory of institutional trust, while, to a large extent, they disconfirm identity-based explanations.

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