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SPP 210

Author: Richard Rose, CSPP and William Mishler, U. of South Carolina
Description: Regime changes occur at two levels, the macro and the micro. In Eastern Europe there has been holistic change at the regime level, but at the micro level individuals can differ in their reactions, some favouring the new and some preferring the old regime, thus creating aggregates of supporters and opponents of the new regime. Combining reactions to the old and new regimes results in a typology of democrats, reactionaries, sceptics and the compliant. Nationwide surveys in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania show that democrats overall are a bare majority of the respondents. If current divisions persist, then East Europeans will be politically polarized. Statistical tests of the influence of social structure and economic attitudes upon individual responses to regime change emphasize the importance of sociotropic economic assessments. But the data also show that most who do not currently support the pluralist regime expect to do so in the foreseeable future; they are laggards rather than anti-democrats. Moreover, the level of future support is so high that it is likely to be proof against fluctuations in the economic conditions of the new regimes.

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CSPP School of Government & Public Policy U. of Strathclyde Glasgow G1 1XQ Scotland