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Intrinsic or Instrumental Support for Democracy in a Post-Communist Society: the Case of Serbia

[journal article]

Pavlović, Zoran

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Abstract According to the cultural model of political culture and political change, citizens accept only those political and economic structures compatible with their relatively stable cultural orientations and political values, which are product of a common early socialization. An important implication of this view is that, after several decades of authoritarian rule and a lack of democratic political culture, the support for democracy in ex-communist societies is rather instrumental than intrinsic, based not on values, but perceived system performances in political and economic terms. The rational choice (or institutional) model, on the other hand, posits that these evaluations of system performances are far more than just lip service to democracy; they shape the political attitudes and behaviours and contribute to the (lack of) allegiance to democratic institutions and norms. This paper aims at clarifying the importance of certain “institutional” and “cultural” variables for the general support to democracy in Serbia and their dynamic interplay. The data used in the paper were collected in the post-election survey, conducted after the May 2012 parliamentary and presidential elections on a representative sample of Serbian citizens (N=1,568). The relative importance of several predictors was analyzed: the socio-demographic variables (respondent’s age, educational level, monthly household income), the personality/dispositional variables (authoritarianism), the institutional variables (satisfaction with Serbian democracy and economy, evaluation of government performance before the election, the perceived level of respect for individual freedom and the quality of voters’ view representation in elections) and the cultural variables (political tolerance, nationalism, liberalism, socialist egalitarianism). The most important predictors of support for democracy were satisfaction with Serbian democracy (β=.21, p<.001) and evaluation of government performance (β=.21, p<.001); the citizens who were more satisfied with democracy and more inclined to positively evaluate the government performance were more supportive of democracy. The less authoritarian citizens (β=-.11, p<.01) and those who described their political views as liberal (β=.11, p<.01) were also more positively oriented towards democracy, proving the relevance of the more general and relatively stable political orientations. The quality of support for democracy in Serbia in intrinsic/instrumental terms was discussed in the concluding part.
Keywords Serbia; post-communist society; democratization; political culture; political change; socialization; value-orientation; political attitude; authoritarianism
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 31-42
Journal European Quarterly of Political Attitudes and Mentalities, 3 (2014) 1
ISSN 2285-4916
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works