Mongolian values and attitudes toward democracy



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MONGOLIAN VALUES AND ATTITUDES TOWARD DEMOCRACY

Mina Sumaadii


Thesis Summary


  1. Subject matter

Research question: If economic development is a sufficient and necessary condition for a political democracy to develop or be sustainable, why is Mongolia a democracy?

  • Only democracy East of Balkans that successfully consolidated democracy

  • Least likely case to undergo successful transition

    • Too far

    • Too poor

Main Challenge: low level of economic development and economic downfalls throughout the transition process.

  1. Purpose of study

The main contribution: highlighting different aspects that relate to democratization processes.

In order to answer the research question it was more important to inquire what democracy means not as an academic concept, but what it represents to the masses in order to support it. As a result, because the pro-democratic culture claim is often accepted as a matter of common sense, the main objective is to establish a relevant theory. In this case, a theoretical framework is built on general modernization theory, which holds that economic aspects matter to democratization. However, the revised version would be drawn on to demonstrate that the success was conditioned by cultural factors.



  1. Theoretical framework

Seymour Martin Lipset: link between level of development of a given country and its probability of being democratic.

Theory of economic development - Przeworski and Limongi (1997)

  • Per Capita GDP - indicator of economic development -> good predictor of stability of democracies.

Theory of democratic culture - Inglehart and Welzel (2005)

  • General public’s democratic values are the appropriate method of indicating the prospects of consolidating democratic governments.

Democratic standards – Richard Rose et al.

“Realist vs Idealist”: Idealist too high a standard to apply to new democracies.

“Democratization backwards” starting democratization before development of mature institutions to ensure “rule-of-law.”

Revised theory

The main theoretical statement of modernization theory still should correspond to the notion that economic development is a positive factor in democratization. Moreover, it is also favorable for further development of efficient democracy by being a driving force for social change. In other terms, that would imply approaching the mature liberal democracy standard in a consolidated regime. Alternatively, persistent economic downfall and crisis lead to reversal of democratization during the transitional period. In the same way in a consolidated regime it would entail departing farther from mature democracy.

Revision: political culture a mediator between economic development and democratization


  1. Methodology of analysis

The research question is associational with the general purpose of finding the strength of associations between the constructs in main claim, and testing them with regard to cultural context.

Strategy:



  • In-depth case study: Political culture -> context specific concepts and items.

  • Generalizing to entire population -> quantitative approach: more objective and offers proper internal generalizability of inferences.

Empirical Data Source: Politbarometers 1995-2012. Public opinion throughout transition and consolidation

  • analysis of social and economic aspects that influencing population in the support for and willingness to participate in the democratic system.

Theoretical Specification and Operationalization

Support of Democracy

Evaluative Methods

  1. people’s preference of democracy over other types of regimes. Commonly used in post-Communist and transitional regimes.

  2. Inglehart and Welzel analyze primacy of “self-expression” over “survival” values, which distinguish democratic support for intrinsic reasons or instrumental purposes.

  3. provide a definition or meaning of democracy.

  4. Schwartz (2006) general value theory - assess different levels of importance that people assign to values would offer assessment of their expectations

Regime Support

Hypothesized system:

In particular, the main consequence of economic development should be increasing citizens’ material well-being (H1). This is the first main step in developing the desired support for democracy on the micro level.

In the context of Mongolia, however, due to very low level of material security as a base, increasing material well-being would lead to the belief that circumstances would improve in foreseeable future (H2). This would be a very crucial step in a society with a high poverty level.

Next, to secure these interests, the system would have to maintain legitimacy by providing elections as the general method of citizen participation in politics. All reflected in corresponding belief in the ability to influence political decisions, which for the general population is mainly limited to casting a vote (H3).

Then, increasing material well-being should be associated with improving macroeconomic conditions and consequent positive assessment (H4).

After that, testing the ability to make informed political decisions and assessing political involvement, would lead to investigating societal interest in politics (H5).

And finally, increasing material well-being should lead to increasing support of the regime (H6).



Concept

Indicators:

Abbr

Level

Economic Development

GDP per capita

[ED]

Macro

Present Life Level

Present Life Level

[L]

Micro

Future expectations

Future expectations

[F]

Micro

Belief to influence politics

Voters Influence

[V]

Micro

Macroeconomic performance

Present Economic Situation

[E]

Micro

Political involvement

Interest in Politics

[I]

Micro

Support of the Political Regime

Satisfaction with the Political System

[S]

Micro/Macro



  1. Findings

1995-2012 Trendlines

  • [ED] Economic Development (GDP per capita): initial economic breakdown, long-term stagnation of 1990’s, and eventual improvements.

  • [L] Life level: gradual increase. Material conditions of citizen improved, but with some drawbacks. Only after internally based economic growth stimulated by mining development life level assessments considerably improved.

  • [S][V][E]Satisfaction with the political system, voter’s influence, and macroeconomic conditions reveal considerable fluctuations related to changes in government.

    • [E] Macroeconomic evaluations are more negative, which probably reflects the underdeveloped institutions and persistence of poverty.

  • [I] Interest in politics remained rather moderate and stable for most of the period.

    • influence of new generation that does not know the previous regime, and to put it simply assigns less value to the political aspects.

    • unrealistic expectations of democracy started weakening

  • [F]Expectation of the future mostly positive, but not during crisis 1995-200.

Three factor model of Liberal Democratic Values

Libertarian Dimension, can be identified by high factor loadings on statements that can be grouped by their adherence to the fundamental value of self-ownership in the theory of Robert Nozick. The second factor categorized as the Egalitarian Dimension, can be identified by higher priority of equal outcomes and market competition, which can be grouped under economic egalitarianism linked with the traditions of John Maynard Keynes. The last factor categorized as the Social Liberalism Dimension, can be identified by high factor loadings on statements valuing combinations of state’s role in ensuring social justice and general equality, grouped by the theory of Karl Marx. However, this dimension’s specificity is in inclusion of a high factor loading on freedom to decide of one’s property.

Large sample -> more stable factors thus:



Libertarian Dimension carries the most information -> suggests that this value dimension constitutes a belief system reflecting a sense of self-entitlement.

Egalitarian Dimension is Keynesian also for the underlying substantive reasons, which imply not the importance of general equality, but equality of opportunities. Low levels of material well-being would lead to emphasis on the importance in freedom of opportunities, which is necessary to improve life’s circumstances.

Social Liberalism Dimension reflects the belief system valuing social justice in the society. Strong feelings of injustice caused by inequality in the present society. There are very few winners of the new system and a large impoverished mass, which is very visible in a small population.

Log linear model [VLF][LFS][VS]

Decision: Egocentric evaluations dominate and contain the most explanatory power.

Includes two three-factor associations and one two-factor association. It can be interpreted as life level is mutually related to voter influence and future [VLF], and also mutually related to future and satisfaction with democracy [LFS], and that voters influence is related to satisfaction with democracy [VS]. Moreover, the hypothesized response variable [S] is allowed to interact with the explanatory variables [V], [L], and [F]. In this case it has a significant relationship with voters influence, and a significant joint relationship with life level and future expectations.

The odds of satisfaction with democracy improve with presence of each factor, but much more significantly for those who are optimistic about the nearest future. Similarly, the odds improve in presence of other factors, but not as significantly for those who are pessimistic.

The implications of the model are that for respondents with a bad life level, regardless of whether they believe or not in voters influence, as long as there is belief that in the nearest future life circumstances would be better they are three and a half times more likely to be satisfied with the present political system. Alternatively, for respondents that have an average life level, regardless of whether they believe or not in voters influence as long as they believe that in the nearest future life circumstances would become better they are two and a half times more likely to be satisfied with the present political system. For the respondents with a bad life level future optimism plays a much prominent role in regime support and they are less critical.

Stats Extra (!) For instance, for those who don’t believe in voters influence and are pessimistic about the nearest future the odds of being satisfied with democracy are 0.38 and 0.58 (bad and average life level respectively). In comparison, regardless of life level, for those who don’t believe in voters influence and are optimistic about the nearest future the odds of being satisfied with democracy are about 1.4. Alternatively, for those who believe in voters influence, but are pessimistic about the nearest future the odds of being satisfied with democracy are 0.59 and 0.89 (bad and average life level respectively). Likewise, regardless of life level, for those who believe in voters influence and are optimistic about the nearest future the odds of being satisfied with democracy are slightly bigger than 2.1.

Respondents that have a bad life level, regardless of whether they believe or not in voters influence as long as they believe that in the nearest future life circumstances would be better they are 3.55 times more likely to be satisfied with the present political system. Alternatively, for respondents that have an average life level , regardless of whether they believe or not in voters influence as long as they believe that in the nearest future life circumstances would become better they are 2.43 times more likely to be satisfied with the present political system.


  1. Conclusion

“Rational Democrats” -> results of the analyses of value dimensions and log linear model are in favor of rather economic gain motivated support of democracy as a form of governance.

Altogether, the empirical analysis and findings do not contradict and are favorable to the general theoretical claim of modernization theory in consideration of cultural conditions.



Limitations

  • Availability of data prior to 1995 limits inferences.

  • Simplifications.

  • Assumption of homogeneity of subclasses -> no demographics involved.

  • No time series model.

  • Causal structure by theoretical claims + log linear technique. However, qualitative studies disentangle arrows.

  • No analysis of proper cognitive instrument assessing individualist tendencies.

  • No analysis of institutions.

Recommendations

Internal Risks: Radicalization – highly demanding population.

Suggested solutions:



  • Real opposition.

  • Civil society.

  • Regime should continue to ensure equal economic opportunities in the society.

  • Maintain balance of life level, future optimism, and voters influence.

External Risks: “Resource curse.”




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