Gatekeepers of democracy? : a comparative study of elite support for democracy in Russia and the Baltic States
Abstract: This study deals with the consolidation of democracy in general and with political support for democracy, in particular. The theoretical reason for observing support for democracy rests on the assumption that this kind of support is a vital factor that will foster (or its absence will obstruct) the development of democracy in the countries analysed in this study, i.e. Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. A democratic regime cannot be sustained without legitimacy or popular and/or elite support. The aim of this study is to map and compare political support among local elites in five regions in Russia, using eight regions in the Baltic states as points of references. The major theoretical point of departure is David Easton's identification of three objects of support, namely, the political community, the regime and the authorities. The local elites (political, administrative, civil society, and economic) were surveyed in 1999 and 2000. The analyses show that the elites in Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania generally support the political community, the first object of support in the theoretical model. There are varying degrees of support among the elites for regime values and principles, norms and the regime structure, which constitute the second object of support. And finally, only the Estonian elites could be said to have some support for the authorities, the third object of support. The study also illustrates that support is a multidimensional phenomenon, and the respondents differentiate between diffuse and specific support.
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