Comparative Politics

The long shadow of dictatorships beyond the near East: authoritarian legacies and citizens' democratic attitudes in Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand

Giovanna Dore
Starting in mid-1980, the progressive weakening of several autocracies provided a catalyst for democratization in Asia. Yet, the movement toward democracy has remained limited. Using original national-level survey data, this article investigated the possible impacts of authoritarian legacies on citizens’ attitudes towards democratic rule in Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand, and also attempted a comparison with countries in the middle East and North Africa. It found that citizens lack a for- better-or-worse commitment to democratic rule and see it “as a second-best alternative, or as a lesser evil by comparison with a plurality of undemocratic alternatives”, that even those who wholeheartedly support democratic rule appear to lack many of the political strengths and underlying civic habits needed for the development of a lasting democratic political culture, and that countries’ specific combinations of a small numbers of predictors explain citizens’ support for democratic rule in Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand.