Exchange: Why the Future Is (Still) Democratic

Issue Date January 2022
Volume 33
Issue 1
Page Numbers 156–62
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Contradicting the oft-cited “deconsolidation thesis”—the notion of a worldwide decline in democratic support, especially among the young—we demonstrate that there is no global erosion of support for democracy, neither over time nor across generations. The global democratic-support trend is basically flat, with cyclical fluctuations to a very high and stable base level. More important, however, is a global generational shift from authoritarian values toward emancipative ones. Emancipative values tie democratic support increasingly tightly to liberal principles. Emancipative-values holders are more likely to are more likely to resist attempts by autocrats or populists to deny or limit democratic freedoms. Slowly but steadily, this cultural undercurrent is shifting legitimacy from autocracy to democracy in most world regions. Democracy’s future is bright.

About the Authors

Christian Welzel

Christian Welzel is political culture research professor at Leuphana University in Lüneberg, Germany, and the former president of the World Values Survey Association. His books include Freedom Rising: Human Empowerment and the Quest for Emancipation (2013).

View all work by Christian Welzel

Stefan Kruse

Stefan Kruse is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Center for the Study of Democracy.

View all work by Stefan Kruse

Lennart Brunkert

Lennart Brunkert is a doctoral candidate at the Center for the Study of Democracy.

View all work by Lennart Brunkert