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SPP 294

Author: Professor Richard Rose
Description: This paper examines how survey questions about democracy are framed in different ways, depending upon whether an idealist or realist definition is employed, and whether or not comparisons are made with alternative regimes. It starts by reporting measures of democracy in post-Communist countries that ask people whether they are satisfied with democracy and to compare it with an ideal standard. Subsequent sections set out the results of realist questions from the New Democracies Barometer, which ask people to evaluate regimes past, present and future--and historically familiar undemocratic alternatives. These measures are derived from the Churchill hypothesis: democracy can be supported as a lesser evil compared to undemocratic regimes that people have known. The approach is peculiarly relevant in post-Communist political systems. A variety of social science theories offer hypotheses that might explain differences in support for democratic and undemocratic regimes across many countries.

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