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SPP 333

Author: William Mishler and Richard Rose
Description: A defining feature of democratic regimes is that they depend for their survival and effectiveness on the public's willing acquiescence and support. It is the thesis of this paper that much recent work on political support for democratizing regimes is misconceived. The failure to appreciate the difference between established democracies and democratizing or "incomplete regimes" has prompted scholars to measure political support incorrectly by relying on idealist measures. We propose an alternative, realist conception and measures of political support. These are predicated upon the assumption that citizens of new regimes have very little understanding or appreciation of democratic values and principles, but possess strong feelings about the new regime based on memories of the old regime and hopes for the future development of the new regime. We explore these alternative measures with data from the 1995-97 World Values Surveys comparing the measures' abilities to describe and explain variations in support for democratic, transitional and undemocratic regimes. Realist measures perform substantially better and in ways that suggest the bounded rationality of realist political support.

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