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The long road to democracy: Does the demand for democracy affect its actual level?

Fedotenkov, Igor (2021): The long road to democracy: Does the demand for democracy affect its actual level?

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Abstract

In this paper, we evaluate if the demand for democracy affects the actual level of democracy. The analysis is based on the World Values Survey and Worldwide Governance Indicators data and is applied to a sample of 70 countries. We focus on the dynamics of the level of democracy within the individual countries, and not on cross-country differences. We find that in the short run, agents’ attitudes towards democracy are negatively correlated with the actual level of democracy. This finding may be explained by crackdowns initiated by authoritarian governments for their self-preservation. Future levels of democracy can be predicted by the agents’ demand for an authoritarian leader unhindered by a parliament or elections. Transformations, however, are far from immediate. Our estimations suggest that the time-lag between a decline in the demand for an authoritarian leader and an increase in the level of democracy is around six years. An additional finding is that a greater dependence on oil revenues is associated with a lower democracy level.

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