Democracy

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democracy-boxed

One of the most striking findings in our history of polling has been about the value Australians place on democracy. Over the last four years, Australians, particularly young Australians, have consistently indicated a surprising ambivalence about democracy as a system of government.

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Democracy

Over the last few years, our polling has uncovered a surprising ambivalence, particularly amongst young Australians, about the value of democracy, despite Australia being one of the oldest continuous democracies in the world.

In 2015, 65% of the voting-age population say that ‘democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’ (up from between 59-60% over the preceding three years). There has been a corresponding drop (from 24% in 2014 to 18% this year) in the proportion of the population who believe that ‘in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’.

As in past years, only a minority (49%) of 18-29 year-old Australians express a preference for democracy, although fewer this year see a non-democratic government as an alternative, with 23% (down 10 points) saying ‘in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’. A quarter of this age-group (26%) say ‘it doesn’t matter what kind of government we have’.

In our 2014 Poll [insert link to 2014 democracy/prosperity], we asked some additional questions in an attempt to better understand these attitudes. When asked the question ‘if you had to choose between a good democracy or a strong economy for Australia, which one would you personally choose?’, only a small majority (53%) in 2014 chose a ‘good democracy’, with 42% opting for ‘a strong economy’.

To those Australians who indicated in our polling that they do not believe democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, we posed five propositions in the 2014 Poll [insert link to 2014 democracy/prosperity chart], and asked whether each was a ‘major’ or ‘minor’ reason for their views. In response, 45% said ‘democracy only serves the interests of a few and not the majority of society’ is a major reason for not preferring democracy. For 42%, the proposition that ‘democracy is not working because there is no real difference between the policies of the major parties’ was cited as a major reason for not preferring democracy. The third strongest response was that ‘I have become disillusioned with Australian politics and think another system might work better’ (36%).

Only 21% cited as a major reason for not preferring democracy that ‘a more authoritarian system where leaders can make decisions without the processes of democracy achieves better results’. Similarly, it does not appear that Australians’ equivocal support for democracy can be ascribed to mere apathy. Only 21% said in 2014 that ‘democracy is the usual form of government now and always will be, so I don’t worry about it’ is a major reason for not preferring democracy.

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Value of Democracy

Please say which one of the three following statements comes closest to your own personal views about democracy:


  • HOW TO USE
    • Hover cursor over chart segments to view data. Click responses in the legend to switch individual results on and off.


close

Democracy

Over the last few years, our polling has uncovered a surprising ambivalence, particularly amongst young Australians, about the value of democracy, despite Australia being one of the oldest continuous democracies in the world.

In 2015, 65% of the voting-age population say that ‘democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’ (up from between 59-60% over the preceding three years). There has been a corresponding drop (from 24% in 2014 to 18% this year) in the proportion of the population who believe that ‘in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’.

As in past years, only a minority (49%) of 18-29 year-old Australians express a preference for democracy, although fewer this year see a non-democratic government as an alternative, with 23% (down 10 points) saying ‘in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’. A quarter of this age-group (26%) say ‘it doesn’t matter what kind of government we have’.

In our 2014 Poll [insert link to 2014 democracy/prosperity], we asked some additional questions in an attempt to better understand these attitudes. When asked the question ‘if you had to choose between a good democracy or a strong economy for Australia, which one would you personally choose?’, only a small majority (53%) in 2014 chose a ‘good democracy’, with 42% opting for ‘a strong economy’.

To those Australians who indicated in our polling that they do not believe democracy is preferable to any other kind of government, we posed five propositions in the 2014 Poll [insert link to 2014 democracy/prosperity chart], and asked whether each was a ‘major’ or ‘minor’ reason for their views. In response, 45% said ‘democracy only serves the interests of a few and not the majority of society’ is a major reason for not preferring democracy. For 42%, the proposition that ‘democracy is not working because there is no real difference between the policies of the major parties’ was cited as a major reason for not preferring democracy. The third strongest response was that ‘I have become disillusioned with Australian politics and think another system might work better’ (36%).

Only 21% cited as a major reason for not preferring democracy that ‘a more authoritarian system where leaders can make decisions without the processes of democracy achieves better results’. Similarly, it does not appear that Australians’ equivocal support for democracy can be ascribed to mere apathy. Only 21% said in 2014 that ‘democracy is the usual form of government now and always will be, so I don’t worry about it’ is a major reason for not preferring democracy.

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Democracy: 18-29 Year Olds

Please say which one of the three following statements comes closest to your own personal views about democracy:


  • HOW TO USE
    • Hover cursor over chart segments to view data. Click responses in the legend to switch individual results on and off.