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SPP 385

Author: Richard Gunther with Jose Ramon Montero
Description: This comparative study of attitudes towards democracy confirms earlier findings concerning the conceptual and empirical separability of such attitudes into three distinct attitudinal domains. Analyses of survey data from Bulgaria, Chile, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain and Uruguay further indicate that each of these three clusters of attitudes has different behavioral correlates: political discontent (in accord with democratic theory) is associated with votes against the incumbent party of government; political disaffection (which includes the sub-dimensions of internal and external efficacy) is correlated with a general estrangement from politics, low exposure to political information, low levels of political information, but otherwise normal levels of voting participation; and democratic support (closely related to the broader concept of regime legitimacy) is associated with electoral support for anti-democratic, anti-system parties. We further speculate that the origins of such attitudes are also distinct from one another: political discontent is a short-term reaction to political and economic conditions; political disaffection appears to be rooted in early socialization experiences; and democratic support in new democracies is closely related to the roles played by key partisan elites at crucial stages of the transition to democracy.

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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