The value of democracy

According to the 2017 Lowy Institute Poll in Australia, “60% of Australians and 52% of 18–29 year olds agree that ‘democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’ Over a third (36%) of Australians say either that ‘in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’ or ‘for someone like me, it doesn’t matter what kind of government we have.’”

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

According to the methodology used in the poll, those polled are read three statements about democracy, and then invited to say which one of the three statements comes closest to their own personal views about democracy. The statements are:

  • Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.
  • For someone like me, it doesn’t matter what kind of government we have.
  • In some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable.

Respondents are also welcome to answer “Don’t know” if none of the statements applies.

The 2017 Lowy Institute Poll reports the results of an “annual nationally representative telephone opinion survey, conducted this year between 1 and 21 March 2017 with a sample size of 1200 Australian adults.

A number of the questions in the Poll were first asked in previous Lowy Institute Polls, or have been adapted from questions asked in those years. Repeating questions in successive years allows us to compare public opinion on a single issue over time, building trend data on important international policy issues.

[Some of the questions in this year’s poll] are identical to or closely adapted from questions asked previously by other survey organisations, which allows for the comparison of public opinion internationally.”

The Lowy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan international policy think tank located in Sydney, Australia, providing high-quality research and distinctive perspectives on the international trends shaping Australia and the world.

For further commentary see here.


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