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Support for Democracy and Its Alternatives: Examining the New Evidence from the World Values Survey Round 7

Fri, August 31, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hynes, 104


This paper examines the current trends of popular support for democracy and alternative forms of political governance aiming to contribute to the ongoing debate on the crisis or democratic backlash by analyzing the newest empirical evidence from the most recent 7th wave of the World Values Survey (2017-2019). Our theoretical framework is based on the concept of political support by Easton (1975) and its further development by Norris (1999; 2011), Klingemann (1999) and Dalton (2004). This conceptual lineage overlaps with the distinction between “realist” and “idealist” forms of political support by Rose, Mishler and Haerpfer (1998), as well as the distinction between “intrinsic” and “instrumental” support by Bratton and Matthes (2002) and Inglehart and Welzel (2005). The article therefore analyzes support for democracy as a set of “idealist” principles as well as the “realist” support for the current regime functioning in the country. The paper considers also popular support for nondemocratic regimes - autocratic leadership, monarchy, army rule or a political system regulated by religious norms - as alternatives to democratic governance.
The structure of the paper follows the Eastonian framework of three levels of political support, including support for the political community, support for democratic values and norms combined with the rejection of autocratic alternatives to autocracy as well as support for specific political institutions. Basing on the 30-years trends of the dynamic of political support in Europe, Asia, Africa, Arab World and the Americas the article will conclude whether the concept of “backsliding” is relevant to describe the present trends and whether the dynamics of popular support for democracy is universal or differs between the world regions. Analysis is based on the seven waves of the World Values Survey (1981-2018) representing 108 countries and more than 380,000 survey respondents with the particular focus made on the 7th wave started in 2017 and still to be completed by the end of 2019. The authors expect that WVS-7 data for up to 30 world countries will be included into the analysis.