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Comparing Regime Support in Non-democratic and Democratic Countries

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A measure of popular support can be found in states with many different kinds of regimes, some democratic and some not, a point often overlooked by theories that concentrate exclusively on democratization. This article sets out nine hypotheses about how different social, economic and political contexts may influence regime support. The World Values Survey provides data about regime support in 36 countries in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia and India. The countries vary substantially in many ways, including whether or not they hold free elections and whether or not they apply the rule of law or are corrupt. Three influences on cross-national support are statistically significant: the extent to which the regime follows the rule of law; there are free and fair elections; and the economy maintains a high standard of living. The most important is the rule of law. The conclusion considers implications for new democracies, where free elections have often been introduced before the establishment of the rule of law and a high material living standard, thus making the dynamics of third wave regimes very different from earlier waves of democratization, and also requiring different explanatory theories.

Keywords: authoritarian; democratization; economic development; elections; rule of law; undemocratic

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2002-06-01

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