Public opinion and democracy in Central and Eastern Europe (1992-2004)

Maka, Zofia
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University of Delaware
This dissertation seeks to establish the main sources of support for democracy in Central and Eastern Europe and determine how these have changed over time. Utilizing the New Democracies Barometer datasets I create, estimate, and compare models of support for democracy for the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland during different stages of their democratic development in three time periods, i.e. in 1992, 1998, and 2004. I test the trimmed model built for the 2004 dataset out-of-sample, on a dataset encompassing information for thirteen Central and Eastern European countries. I conclude that performance considerations, both political and economic, are dominant in explaining support for democracy in the region. While trust and values variables have some effect on one's attitudes toward democracy, it is their assessment of regime performance that mainly determines whether or not one is a democrat. My analysis also stresses the need to look at contextual factors in explaining attitudes toward democracy: when analyzing determinants of support for democracy in the region, country-specific characteristics have to be taken into consideration as they significantly influence people's views on democracy.