New Study: Attitudes Toward Democracy

Itʼs Complicated. People and Their Democracy in Germany, France, Britain, Poland and the United States.

What expectations do people have of democracy? What are their demands or concerns? Politicians and civil society frequently ask these questions as they seek starting points to effectively strengthen democracy and involve people who have not felt addressed so far.

In order to gain a better understanding people's different attitudes, expectations, and experiences with regards to democracy, we conducted a cross-national and application oriented study in partnership with the Robert Bosch Foundation in 2021. With the help of the expertise of our international More in Common team and network, we were able to examine people's relationship to democracy in five countries at once. Together, we looked at the challenges facing each democratic country.

With the support of YouGov and KANTAR, More in Common polled more than 10,000 people in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Poland and the United States in early 2021 and heard from thousands of people during interviews and focus groups.

Particular attention was paid focus to those groups within the population that are neither active defenders nor opponents of democracy, but have an ambivalent relationship with democracy.

Insights into core findings of the new study

The study provides five core findings on the basis of which recommendations can be made:

  • In none of the five countries do the majority desire alternatives to democracy.
  • At the same time, people have different ideas about what constitutes democracy and what it must fulfil.
  • Democracy 'in itself' is not enough for many people. They link their satisfaction with democracy to the results of political action.
  • In all five countries, there are democracy-ambivalent groups that do not have a solid relationship to democracy and that needs to be better addressed.
  • A crisis of trust and discourse characterizes all five countries, albeit to varying degrees. This exists between citizens and the political system, as well as among citizens themselves.
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  • Introduction: Research on democracy in five countries

  • Method: Tracing social dynamics around democracy

  • Sufficiently consolidated? Attitudes toward democracy in Germany

  • Democracy in France: Torn between idealism and disillusionment

  • Poland: Democracy in the stress test

  • Great Britain: Repair and resilience of British democracy

  • The United States of America: A Democracy Divided?

  • Conclusion: Country-Specific Findings and Recurring Motifs