Perceptions of democracy in the world: do different understandings held by the people shape political systems?
Şahin, Osman (2016) Perceptions of democracy in the world: do different understandings held by the people shape political systems? [Thesis]
Democracy does not have a uniform meaning. Ordinary people do not understand the same thing from democracy. Nevertheless, intellectuals and the political elite alike promote democracy as an ideal to be emulated. In addition, democracy literature does not extensively study the factors, which affect the ways in which ordinary people understand the term. A major goal of this research is to investigate how the context people occupy affects the ways in which they understand democracy. To do this, I use World Values Survey 6th wave, which was conducted between 2010 and 2014 and covers 60 countries. Analysis demonstrates that GDP per capita (PPP) is an important factor affecting the ways in which people define democracy. People in richer countries are more likely to consider procedural characteristics essential to democracy while people in poorer countries tend to consider economic characteristics as essential to democracy. This finding indicates the possibility of the presence of specific support to the regime in poorer countries and the presence of diffuse support to the regime in richer countries, making consolidation of democracy harder in poorer countries. Analysis also shows that in poorer countries authoritarian tendencies are higher among the people than among the people in richer countries. Analysis does not provide any evidence that the ways in which people define democracy shape the political regime. Comparative study of Egypt and Tunisia shows that two factors affect the outcome of transitions: elite coherence and electoral system preference.
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