The Political and Moral Economies of Democratic Support

36 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2020

See all articles by Christopher Claassen

Christopher Claassen

University of Glasgow

Pedro Magalhães

University of Lisbon - Institute of Social Science

Date Written: February 20, 2020

Abstract

Popular support for democracy is the lifeblood of stable democratic systems. Yet existing research is poorly suited for explaining why democratic support falls and how it might rise again, because it uses static research designs, and identifies the sources of support as being fairly static factors such as institutions and political cultures. In contrast, this paper proposes and tests two explanations for changes in democratic support: a political-economic theory focusing on fluctuations in the effectiveness of governance, and a moral-economic theory focusing on variations in the impartiality of governance and political equality. Using dynamic, time-series, cross-sectional tests, we find that the most important drivers of changes in support are moral rather than political-economic. Preserving the legitimacy of democracy, and therefore its survival, rests on the extent to which democratic governments can curb corruption, treat citizens impartially, and provide more equitable access to power across class, ethnic, and gender divides.

Keywords: support for democracy, performance legitimacy, political equality, impartial governance, corruption

Suggested Citation

Claassen, Christopher and Magalhães, Pedro, The Political and Moral Economies of Democratic Support (February 20, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3541814 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3541814

Christopher Claassen (Contact Author)

University of Glasgow ( email )

School of Social and Political Sciences
Glasgow, G12 8QQ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://chrisclaassen.com

Pedro Magalhães

University of Lisbon - Institute of Social Science ( email )

Av. Professor Anibal Betencourt, 9
Lisboa, 1649-004
Portugal

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