Support for Liberal Democracy and Populist Attitudes: A Pilot Survey for Young Educated Citizens

Date01 August 2021
AuthorJosé Rama,Lisa Zanotti
Publication Date01 August 2021
SubjectEarly Results
Political Studies Review
2021, Vol. 19(3) 511 –519
© The Author(s) 2020
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1478929920945856
Support for Liberal Democracy
and Populist Attitudes: A Pilot
Survey for Young Educated
Lisa Zanotti1 and José Rama2
At the theoretical level, even if populism and democracy are not necessarily antithetical, the
former challenges the liberal component of democracy, advocating for the majority rule and
putting under stress the principles of the rule of law. To test the relationship between liberal
democracy and populism, we created four new questions that measure the support for liberal
democracy conceived as a trade-off with different policies. We tested our battery of questions in
a pilot survey with educated young voters. The results show that those individuals who exhibit
lower levels of support for liberal democracy are the ones with higher populist attitudes. This
might be due to the fact that the original battery of questions grasps the level of support for liberal
democracy better than the standard ‘Churchillian’ question.
populist attitudes, liberal democracy, youngers
Accepted: 8 July 2020
Without a doubt, we can say that democracy is one of the most studied, if not the most
studied, topic in political science. In recent years, most of these contributions focused on
the declining state that democracy has been supposedly experiencing. This so-called cri-
sis of democracy is analysed from different points of view and with respect to different
regions of the world (Levitsky and Ziblatt, 2018; Mounk, 2019).
For instance, Diamond (2020: 36) underlines that in recent years, ‘democracy around
the world has been in a funk’. He argues that, during the last period (2009–2019) the rate
of democratic failure has increased to 18%, ‘with democracy failing in key states including
1School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD, Australia
2Department of Political Economy, King’s College London, London, UK
Corresponding author:
Lisa Zanotti, School of Government and International Relations, Centre for Governance and Public Policy,
Griffith University, Building N72 Room -1.07, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia.
945856PSW0010.1177/1478929920945856Political Studies ReviewZanotti and Rama
Early Results

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