Authoritarian or Simply Disillusioned? Explaining Democratic Skepticism in Central and Eastern Europe
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPolitical Behavior. 2022 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11109-022-09807-0
Survey research has revealed that post-communist citizens are skeptical towards democracy. Despite a substantial body of literature that has researched the origins and determinants of these attitudes, consensus has not yet emerged. A major challenge has been to distinguish between individual support for democracy as an ideal political regime and satisfaction with the way democracy is practiced in one’s country. Using structural equation modeling with latent variables, we improve measurement validity and account for feedback effects to better understand the relationship between these attitudes. Consistent with our performance-based theory, we find that positive assessments of political performance drive normative support for democracy. The impact of satisfaction with democracy on democratic support suggests that we should not rush to view post-communist citizens' mindset as anomalous and inherently anti-democratic. Rather, post-communist skepticism of democracy might be generalized to contexts characterized by flawed implementation and unmet expectations of this form of government.