“The significance of this gap can be interpreted in at least two different ways,” says Jonas Linde. A pessimistic reading is that if the political elites can’t offer government choices that are attractive in the eyes of citizens, the result in the long run will be a disaffection that can jeopardize the support for the principles of democracy. A more positive interpretation is that the divide doesn’t pose a major problem. A similar split has also been observable for a long time in established democracies and could be claimed to be fully normal in any democracy. If so, it’s a case of what could be termed “doubting democrats,” or critical citizens—questioning what the system is delivering while at the same time remaining convinced, in principle, of the superiority of democracy over other forms of government. Such doubting democrats could even be an asset to the democratic system.
“A democratic conviction in combination with dissatisfaction with efficiency can be regarded as a driving force for political commitment,” says Jonas Linde.
Linde’s dissertation shows that democracy is well on its way to becoming engrained in the ten countries included in his study. Eight of the countries are now members of the EU, and two are slated to join in 2007.
“Membership can be seen as a confirmation of the consolidation of democracy, since a functioning and institutionalized democratic system is a requirement for joining the EU,” says Jonas Linde.
The title of the dissertation is Doubting Democrats? A comparative Analysis of Support for Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.
A press photo of Jonas Linde can be downloaded from www.oru.se/press/bildarkiv/jonas_linde