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Citizens’ attitudes about the political parties in their countries have been linked to their overall satisfaction with their democracy, with those feeling great love (hate) for parties feeling more (less) satisfied with the democracy. Such strong positive and negative emotions require time and clear targets to form. This study demonstrates that the influence of interparty affect is greater where the party system has institutionalized. Where the public can be familiar with the parties, their positions, and their relative status in the party system, citizens’ attitudes toward the democracy are more informed by their feelings about the parties in the system. This article draws on 20 years of surveys from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. It demonstrates that the positive effect of positive party affect is greater in institutionalized party systems, while the negative effect of negative party affect is not. This article thus contributes to political science’s understanding of affective polarization, the benefits of party system institutionalization, and popular democratic commitment.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Party Politics, volume 29, issue 6, in 2022 following peer review. This article may not exactly replicate the final published version. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at

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