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Despite the enthusiasm surrounding the Colour Revolutions and the Arab Spring, the world's share of democracies has stagnated over the past 15 years. The steady rise of China, Russia, and Iran has also led to warnings of a resurgence of "authoritarian great powers", especially in light of the financial crisis centred in the USA and Western Europe. On the positive side, however, democracy remains remarkably popular as an ideal. In the Global barometer's most recent survey, two out of three respondents say democracy is their most favoured political system, including a majority in 49 of the 55 countries. Yet there is evidence, much expanded upon in this edited collection, that commitments to liberal democracy in practice are not as strong. Nominally pro-democratic citizens frequently favour limitations on electoral accountability and individual rights in the service of improved governance or economic growth. Further, there are rising concerns that many citizens, especially across the developing world, are turning away from democracy out of frustration with democratic performance. In contrast to many transitional regimes, the more established democracies appear to be losing support among their highly educated citizens. The contributions in this edited collection compare how democracy is understood and experienced in transitioning regimes and established democracies.
This book was published as a special issue of the Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties.
By drawing a new boundary between the EU and its eastern neighbours, the European Union has since 1989 created a frontier that has been popularly described in the frontier states as the new 'Berlin Wall'. This book is the first comparative study of the impact of public opinion on the making of foreign policy in two Eastern European states on either side of the divide: Poland and Ukraine. Focusing on the vocal, informed segment of public opinion and drawing on results of both opinion polls and a series of innovative focus groups gathered since the Orange Revolution, Nathaniel Copsey unravels the mystery of how this crucial segment of the public impacts on foreign policy makers in both states. He also takes a closer look at the business community and the importance of economic factors in forming public opinion. The book presents a fresh approach to our understanding of how the public's view of the past influences contemporary politics.
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