Does Ethics Self-Regulation Improve Trust in Parties? Experimental Evidence

Dr. Luis De Sousa
Mr. Miguel Pereira
Mr. Gustavo Gouvêa Maciel
Dr. Edalina Sanches

Political ethics strengthen the bonds between citizens and their representatives, and therefore matter to the overall quality of democracy. In recent years, parties have responded to this challenge by developing internal codes of conduct, disciplinary boards, and other self-regulatory measures. However, the perceived effectiveness of these measures remains an open question. What is the reputational impact of self-regulatory measures? We address this question through a novel survey experiment with voters and legislators. The analyses reveal the conditional effectiveness of different efforts to promote political ethics, and the (mis)match between voters and politicians on ethical standards. The study contributes to literature on perceptions of political integrity and the prospects of self-regulatory measures to promote institutional trust.