Alexander Wuttke, Konstantin Gavras, Harald Schoen
Have Europeans Grown Tired of Democracy? New Evidence from 18 Consolidated Democracies, 1981-2018

British Journal of Political Science, 2022: 52, issue 1, pp. 416-428
ISSN: 0007-1234 (print), 1469-2112 (online)

Democracies without democrats are not sustainable. Yet, recent studies argue that Western citizens are turning their backs on the system of self-governance, thereby eroding the societal foundations of consolidated democracies. We contribute to discussions about citizen support of democracy by 1) analyzing new cross-national survey data in 18 European countries that enable assessing the temporal and geographical generalizability of previous findings; 2) disentangling age-, cohort-, and period effects, thereby aligning the analytical methods with the theoretical arguments; 3) transparently reporting the entire evidence derived from pre-registered analyses to avoid cherrypicked findings. Our findings show that citizens of consolidated democracies continue to endorse self-governance. Yet, in some but not all countries, there is evidence for a growing number of ‘democrats in name only’, particularly among the young generation. These findings suggest a second phase in research on democratic fatigue that broadens the analytical scope for the multi-faceted nature of democratic support