A decade of democracy : comparing trends in support for democracy in South Africa and Brazil since democratic transition

Corkin, Lucy Jane (2004-12)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2004.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Brazil and South Africa were both part of the global “third-wave” of democracy, the beginnings of their democratic transitions occurring in 1985 and 1994 respectively. Despite having been formerly subjected to decades of authoritarian rule, both countries experienced a modicum of democratic practice, however limited in franchise, under the previous regimes. The purpose of this study is to investigate the levels of support for democracy in Brazil and South Africa since democratic transition. Two types of political support are identified as crucial for democratic sustainability: diffuse support, or support for democracy’s intrinsic principles, and specific support, support which is conditional on the positive evaluation of the regime institutions and incumbents. These two types of political support are conceptualized as encompassing five levels or objects of political support, according to the Norris model: the political community, regime principles, regime performance (diffuse support), regime institutions and political actors (specific support). This study proposes that because vestiges of democratic norms and practices have been present within these countries’ political systems for some time, it is possible that they will manifest trends in support similar to much older, more established democracies. These global trends indicate that diffuse support for democracy is being maintained while specific support for democracy is waning. A longitudinal quantitative study was conducted, using consecutive waves of World Values Survey to operationalize support for democracy in terms of the five abovementioned political objects and the results of South Africa and Brazil compared. These results show that both case studies could be interpreted as having fairly high levels of diffuse support and decreasing levels of specific support for democracy. It is however acknowledged that results are not conclusive and further research is required, especially with respect to how respondents conceptualize the term ‘democracy’.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Brasilië en Suid-Afrika was albei deel van die globale “derde golf” van demokrasie, met die aanvang van hulle oorgang na demokrasie onderskeidelik in 1985 en 1994. Ten spyte daarvan dat hierdie twee lande voormalig aan dekades van outoritêre gesag onderwerp is, het albei, hoewel beperk in stemreg, ’n mate van demokratiese praktyk onder ’n vorige bestel ervaar. Die doel van hierdie studie is om die steunvlakke vir demokrasie in Brasilië en Suid- Afrika sedert hulle oorgang na demokrasie te ondersoek. Twee soorte politieke steun word geïdentifiseer as deurslaggewend vir demokratiese volhoubaarheid: verspreide steun – of steun vir die intrinsieke beginsels van demokrasie – en spesifieke steun – steun wat van die positiewe evaluering van die regime se instellings en ampsbekleders afhang. Hierdie twee soorte politieke steun word deur vyf konsepte voorgestel wat die vyf vlakke of voorwerpe van politieke steun volgens die Norris-model dek: die politieke gemeenskap, regimebeginsels, regimeprestasie (verspreide steun), regime-instellings en politieke akteurs (spesifieke steun). Hierdie studie stel voor dat, aangesien spore van demokratiese norme en praktyke vir ’n geruime tyd binne hierdie lande se politieke stelsels teenwoordig was, dit moontlik is dat hulle steuntendense sal toon wat aan baie ouer, meer gevestigde demokrasieë soortgelyk is. Hierdie globale tendense toon dat verspreide steun vir demokrasie gehandhaaf word terwyl spesifieke steun vir demokrasie aan die kwyn is. ’n Longitudinale kwantitatiewe studie is onderneem wat van opeenvolgende siklusse van die “World Values Survey” gebruik maak om steun vir demokrasie in terme van die vyf bogenoemde politieke voorwerpe uit te beeld. Die resultate van Suid-Afrika en Brasilië is daarna vergelyk. Uit hierdie resultate sou afgelei kon word dat redelik hoë vlakke van verspreide steun en dalende vlakke van spesifieke steun vir demokrasie in beide gevalle voorkom. Daar word egter erken dat resultate nie beslissend is nie en dat verdere navorsing nodig is, in besonder met betrekking tot respondente se begrip van die term ‘demokrasie’.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/16271
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