Will people put up with new democracies which are associated with inflation, unemployment, crime and corruption? Or will they return to some form of authoritarian regime? Half a century ago, Winston Churchill predicted that people will accept democracy with all its faults – because it is better than anything else that has ever been tried. To find out if Churchill was right, this book analyses a unique source of evidence about public opinion, the New Democracies Barometer, covering the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Belarus and Ukraine.
The authors find that there is widespread popular support for democracy compared to communism, dictatorship and military rule. People who have been denied democratic freedoms value new political rights more highly. Economic concerns are second in importance. If democracy fails, it will be because political elites have abused their power, not because the public does not want democracy.
Looking at post–communist Europe makes us think again about democracy in countries where it is taken for granted. The abrupt transition to democracy in post–communist countries is normal; gradual evolution in the Anglo–American style is the exception to the rule. Complaints in Western countries about democracy being less than ideal reflect confidence that there is no alternative. Post–communist citizens do not have this luxury: they must make the most of what they have.
This important book makes an important contribution to current debates about democratization and democratic theory and to the growing literature on the social and political changes taking place in post–communist societies. It will be of particular interest to students and scholars in politics and sociology.
Part I: Competing Claims for Popular Support: .
1. Competition between Regimes: A Problem of Supply and Demand.
2. Democracy and Undemocratic Alternatives.
3. Uncertain Dynamics of Democratization.
4. Comparing and Contrasting Post–Communist Societies.
Part II: Mass Response to Transformation:.
5. Popular Support for Competing Regimes.
6. Impact of Social Structure Old and New.
7. Political Legacies and Performance.
8. Reacting to Economic Transformation.
9. How Much do Context, Countries and Sequence Matter?.
10. Completing Democracy?.
"After the fall of the Berlin Wall, we need to understand what is happening in the post–communist world. This book joins theory and a unique wealth of survey data from countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. There is no more timely book on democracy." Juan J. Linz, Sterling Professor of Politics and Social Science, Yale University
"What makes people living under post–communism "buy" liberal democracy and reject its authoritarian alternatives? Starting with an original reading of Schumpeter and Churchill, Rose and his co–authors offer a number of fresh answers based on comparative survey analysis. The overall optimistic answer is that Central East European democracy is well on its way to completion and that this holds true even in the absence of economic miracles. A must for students of post–communist societies." Claus Offe, Professor of Political Science at Humboldt University, Berlin