Support for democracy in Eastern European former communist countries. A cross-national research on the period of 1995-2014

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The fall of communism in Eastern Europe resulted in a considerable number of new developing democracies around the early 1990s. Citizens of these countries suddenly found themselves in a new political context to which they had to adjust. Over twenty years later, it has become apparent that some of these democracies have done better than others in terms of democratic, but also economic performance. Similarly, populations in Eastern European countries vary in their support for democracy, a factor which is often seen as essential for a well-functioning democracy. This thesis employs three different theories in order to find out which factors explain support for democracy. These theories involve democratic learning, governmental performance and socialisation. After examining potential explanations for support for democracy using a multilevel design in order to combine macro-level data with survey data, this research reveals three significant conclusions. The first conclusion is that support for democracy is not affected by the mechanism of cohort replacement. Young Eastern European generations simply do not have more support for democracy than older generations. The second is that economic governmental performance, as well as governmental performance as perceived by citizens, influences the support for democracy that these citizens have. This outcome indicates that people in Eastern Europe to a significant extent evaluate the merit of democracy by its output, rather than by its inherent merit. The third conclusion is that individuals who are more politically active have more support for democracy compared with people who are less politically active, suggesting that those who are more familiar with democratic institutions also have more support for democracy.
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