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SPP 273

Author: Janos Simon
Description: Democracy is a key concept in public opinion surveys as well as political theory, especially in post-Communist countries. Public opinion surveys show that its meaning is problematic empirically as well as theoretically. The purpose of this paper is to analyze a variety of survey findings about what people think people mean by democracy in a dozen different post-Communist countries. Closed-end questions show three meanings have different degrees of significance: political institutions, the socio-economic dimension and individual moral rights. Replies to open-ended questions show that invoking the symbol of democracy stimulates many different responses, including: freedom, participation, social and economic democracy, parties and elections, legal institutions, values, emotions, etc. There are differences within countries and also between countries. Systematic analysis of Hungarian data shows these are also found between elites and the mass public too.

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Postal Address:    CSPP Publications, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, G1 1XQ, UK

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