Research on the U.S.S.R. and its successor states since the late Gorbachev era has found substantial public support for the idea of free elections, multiple parties, and expanded civil rights. But it also points to a gap between support for democratic values in the abstract versus willingness to apply them in practice. People who profess democratic values (demophiles) appear to be all too willing to deny rights to groups they dislike. Interpretations of this tolerance gap have focused on the confusion wrought by democratic transition, on the complexity of the idea of tolerance, and on the legacies of authoritarian culture. This article suggests instead that demophiles are responding rationally to the fragility of new democratic institutions. The tolerance gap is less the product of confusion or ingrained authoritarian culture than a logical response to political chaos.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science