The Centrist Paradox: Political Correlates of the Democratic Disconnect

24 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2018

Date Written: May 01, 2018


A wave of new research has documented the decline in citizen support for democracy. But the distribution of anti-democratic attitudes remains unclear. In this article, I use the World Values Survey and European Values Survey to examine the relationship between democratic discontent and the left-right political spectrum. I find that, contrary to much contemporary commentary, hostility to democracy is strongest not at the political extremes, but in the center. Respondents at the center of the political spectrum are the least supportive of democracy, least committed to its institutions, and most supportive of authoritarianism. I refer to this surprising finding as the ‘centrist paradox.’ Recent research has advanced our understanding of extremist parties. We know far less, however, about moderates. The centrist paradox points to this lacuna.

Keywords: Democracy, Authoritarianism, Centrism, Centrist

Suggested Citation

Adler, David, The Centrist Paradox: Political Correlates of the Democratic Disconnect (May 01, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

David Adler (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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