Regime Support and Democratic Backsliding Trends. The Strange Case of European (and Candidate) Countries

Prof. Vincenzo Memoli
Dr. Antonino Castaldo

How citizens’ evaluation of democracy affect democratic backsliding trends? Although democracy overall has made considerable progress during the third wave, democratic backsliding has emerged in the last decade as a worrying phenomenon in both new (i.e. Eastern Europe), weak (i.e. Balkans) and even old and consolidated democracies (i.e. USA). In few countries, democratic regressions have been short and followed by recovery, while in many others the decline is going on, especially among those that are waiting to be part of the European Union. In this paper, moving from the idea that citizens’ political evaluation exerts a relevant influence on the fortune of democratic regimes, we look at a set of EU members and candidates countries in a longitudinal way (2005-2018). Using Eurobarometer data and applying multivariate analysis, we show that public support, declined in terms of satisfaction with democracy and public distrust, plays a key role in explaining democratic backsliding.