World Public Opinion About Democracy

[First published February 21, 2006] In September of last year Gallup International released its <A HREF=”; This was a survey of more than 50,000 people conducted in 65 countries, and representing the opinions of 1.3 million people.

It found that:

Among respondents, 79% believe that democracy is the best system of government —almost 10% more than in 2004. See the chart below for responses by region.

As to the United States, “. . . the level of agreement is high (87%) and has increased in comparison with the 2004 figure (81%). The UK (81%) shows figures in line with Western Europe’s average (82%), above the percentage for the world (75%), and when compared to value for 2004, it has increased 3 points (from 78%).”

Also, the survey found that not only do people favor democracy as the best form of government, but 65% of those surveyed say they are satisfied with democracy, whilst 31% feel the opposite. In N. America, 77% are satisfied, while 21% are not; in W. Europe, the division is 69% vs. 29%. See the chart below for how other regions divided on this.

However, only 47% across all regions believe elections are fair and free in their country, while 30% do not think that their country is governed by the will of the people. These low percentages, I’m sure, are due to partisan-party differences, as in the United States where many Democrats claim that Bush “stole the election.”

For democratic peace activists like me, the global results in favor of democracy are very encouraging, and show that the push for world democratization is doing what people desire. To put this another way, everyone wants to be free. It is not a matter of persuading people about the moral goods of freedom — ending war, democide, and famine, and enriching a nation — but of toppling their thug regimes.

Related Links

“Report Card on Democracy: There have never been more democracies in the world, and the average level of human freedom is now the highest ever recorded. Reasons to celebrate? Yes—and no. “ By Larry Diamond (he is a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the coeditor of the Journal of Democracy):

There are dozens of struggling and recently established democracies in the world that have yet to achieve the deep and enduring levels of public and elite legitimacy that signal consolidation. The most common reasons for failure relate to the three crises of governance mentioned earlier: legal, ethnic, and economic. It is too often forgotten that the challenge of building democracy heavily overlaps with that of building the authority and capacity of a viable but restrained state. Whether this broad challenge can be effectively addressed—especially through legal, institutional, and economic reforms of the state’s structure and role—will determine whether democracy continues to prosper in the world or instead gives way to a “third reverse wave” of democratic breakdowns.

RJR: This is an important and informative article, with which I substantially agree.

The World Movement for Democracy:

a global network of democrats including activists, practitioners, academics, policy makers, and funders, who have come together to cooperate in the promotion of democracy.

” E-Democracy around the World” A survey in pdf:

The dawn of e-democracy is changing the way people interact with government and politicians. Across the world, people are using the Internet in new ways to get information, use services and participate in democracy.

World Audit of Democracy Has a table of all countries giving their ranks on democracy, press freedom, and corruption. The U.S. ranks 14, 13, and 14 respectively. The highest on all is Finland, and at or near the bottom on all is Burma (Myanmar)

“After Neoconservatism” By Francis Fukuyama.

Pro Forma says: The article is basically an outline of how the Bush administration went astray with it’s “Wilsonian realism” program of assertively pushing democracy. I see this as the beginning (well, there have been others, but this is a benchmark) of a groundswell of thinking in American foreign policy that will conclude in a few years (before 2008) with the idea that we should “support” democracy, but reject the arrogant, costly, misguided, intemperate, uncertain (did I miss anything?) Bush agenda of forcible regime change and “in-your-face” democratizing. Which means we are back to shunning democratic movements, and continuing to cozy up to “our” tyrants. Will Bush’s campaign to promote democracy end up a footnote in American Foreign Policy?

RJR: I disagree with Fukuyama’s criticism of “naïve” Wilsonianism, and of the Iraq War. I would call his take on Bush’s “Forward Strategy of Freedom (he claims it is now a “shambles”) as neorealism.

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