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Public Opinion and Democratic Legitimacy

From: Journal of Democracy
Volume 19, Number 2, April 2008
pp. 74-87 | 10.1353/jod.2008.0032



This paper examines on a global scale how important it is for young democracies to deliver economic welfare to win the hearts of their citizens. A decoupling of popular support for democratic form of government from economic performance is believed to be conducive to the consolidation of young democracies. We found an encouraging global pattern that clearly shows evaluations of economic condition are relatively unimportant in explaining level of popular support for democracy. However, high-income East Asian countries register a glaring exception to this global generalization, suggesting that their distinctive trajectory of regime transition has imposed on democratic regimes an additional burden of sustaining a record of miraculous economic growth of the past.

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