The political support of citizens of new democracies reflects two sets of experiences. Initially, people are socialized into an undemocratic regime; then, they must re-learn political support in relation to a new regime. In an established democracy, it is difficult to disentangle the effect of early socialization and current performance because both refer to the same regime. However, this is both possible and necessary in countries where there has been a change in regime. Critical questions then arise: When, whether and how do citizens determine their support for their new regime? At the start of a new regime past socialization should be more important but, after a few years, current performance should become more important. We draw on 47 Barometer surveys between 1991 and 1998 in ten more or less democratic post-communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to test the relative importance of early socialization influences, the legacy of the communist past, and the political and economic performance of new regimes. We find that economic and political performance explains the most variance in support and, secondarily, the communist legacy. Early socialization is insignificant. However, contrary to economic theories of voting, the impact of political performance is greater than the impact of economic performance in post-communist countries-and its impact is increasing.
- POLITICAL DEMOCRACY