East Asian democracies are in trouble, their legitimacy threatened by poor policy performance and undermined by nostalgia for the progrowth, soft-authoritarian regimes of the past. Yet citizens throughout the region value freedom, reject authoritarian alternatives, and believe in democracy.
This book is the first to report the results of a large-scale survey-research project, the East Asian Barometer, in which eight research teams conducted national-sample surveys in five new democracies (Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Mongolia), one established democracy (Japan), and two nondemocracies (China and Hong Kong) in order to assess the prospects for democratic consolidation. The findings present a definitive account of the way in which East Asians understand their governments and their roles as citizens. Contributors use their expert local knowledge to analyze responses from a set of core questions, revealing both common patterns and national characteristics in citizens' views of democracy. They explore sources of divergence and convergence in attitudes within and across nations.
The findings are sobering. Japanese citizens are disillusioned. The region's new democracies have yet to prove themselves, and citizens in authoritarian China assess their regime's democratic performance relatively favorably. The contributors to this volume contradict the claim that democratic governance is incompatible with East Asian cultures but counsel against complacency toward the fate of democracy in the region. While many forces affect democratic consolidation, popular attitudes are a crucial factor. This book shows how and why skepticism and frustration are the ruling sentiments among today's East Asians.
"A fascinating study." — Business Times Singapore
"This rigorously designed study... will surely become a classic in the field." — Foreign Affairs
"A valuable but also complex book.... It is impossible, in this short review, to do justice to the richness of the data compiled and of the conclusions proposed.... Essential reading." — China Perspectives
"the contributions to this edited volume represent a nuanced and balanced rebuttal to the view that 'Asian values' are not compatible with democracy...a very useful introduction to the topic of democracy in Asia in a course on comparative politics." — André Laliberté, Journal of Chinese Political Science
"...provides a superb analysis of popular support for democracy in the region, and will long serve as a highly valuable resource to both regional specialists and democracy scholars." — Stephen D. Collins, Taiwan Journal of Democracy
"The whole forms an exemplary exercise in internationally comparative political science research on a provocative and elusive subject matter." — John Dunn, East Asia
"A careful, fascinating, and sobering cross-national analysis of East Asian public attitudes about democratic ideals and practice. The contributors make the persuasive argument that democratic consolidation has yet to be established in East Asia's new democracies and that even in its older ones, it is more lack of support for authoritarian alternatives than enthusiasm for the established system that keeps these polities democratic. This book not only provides an important analysis of East Asian democracy but also adds a new level of sophistication to the literature on democratic consolidation." — Gerald Curtis, Columbia University
"The editors of this book have assembled a distinguished group of public opinion scholars to describe citizen orientations toward democracy in eight East Asian nations. The findings make valuable contributions to documenting both the progress toward the consolidation of democratic political cultures and the challenges that still remain." — Russell Dalton, University of California at Irvine
"How is democracy faring in the world's most economically dynamic region? In this first systematic analysis of that question, the contributors conclude that it has been faring surprisingly well. Mass publics have displayed 'democratic resilience' in the face of coups (in Thailand) and coup attempts (in the Philippines) while 'authoritarian detachment' (a suspension of judgment about democracy while reserving authoritarian values) remains fairly limited, compared to what similar surveys in Latin America and Africa have found. Yet democracy is still in a tenebrous 'twilight zone' in the region, with democratic decision making bringing uneven economic results and thriving neighbors such as China displaying satisfaction with their own less democratic political arrangements. All students of contemporary East Asia will benefit from this penetrating, comprehensive analysis." — Lowell Dittmer, University of California at Berkeley and editor, Asian Survey
1. Introduction: Comparative Perspectives on Democratic Legitimacy in East Asia, by Yun-han Chu, Larry Diamond, Andrew J. Nathan, and Doh Chull Shin
2. The Mass Public and Democratic Politics in South Korea: Exploring the Subjective World of Democratization in Flux, by Doh Chull Shin and Chong-Min Park
3. Mass Public Perceptions of Democratization in the Philippines: Consolidation in Progress?, by Linda Luz Guerrero and Rollin F. Tusalem
4. How Citizens View Taiwan's New Democracy, by Yu-tzung Chang and Yun-han Chu
5. Developing Democracy Under a New Constitution in Thailand, by Robert B. Albritton and Thawilwadee Bureekul
6. The Mass Public and Democratic Politics in Mongolia, by Damba Ganbat, Rollin F. Tusalem, and David D. Yang
7. Japanese Attitudes and Values Toward Democracy, by Ken'ichi Ikeda and Masaru Kohno
8. Democratic Transition Frustrated: The Case of Hong Kong, by Wai-man Lam and Hsin-chi Kuan
9. China: Democratic Values Supporting an Authoritarian System, by Tianjian Shi
10. Conclusion: Values, Regime Performance, and Democratic Consolidation, by Yun-han Chu, Larry Diamond, and Andrew J. Nathan