Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University


A Typological Analysis of Democratic Legitimacy: the Asian Cases


Min-hua Huang - Assistant Professor at Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University

February 2010

A well-known puzzle in the study of Asian democratization is the inverse relationship between the level of democracy and the support for the "D" word. According to the latest Asian Barometer survey, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Mongolia, and Cambodia have a much higher level of overt support for democracy than those well-recognized democracies such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. To unravel this puzzle, the authors develop a new regression method for the two-dimensional typological analysis including the "D" word and the liberal democratic attitude. Four ideal types of democratic orientation are defined and analyzed: Consistent Democrats (high support for democracy, high liberal democratic value), Critical Democrats (low support for democracy, high liberal democratic value), Non-Democrats (low support for democracy, low liberal democratic value), and Superficial Democrats (High support for democracy, low liberal democratic value). Different from most of the regression methods, the dependent variables in typological regression include the radius and the azimuth and therefore transform the categorical nature of the two-by-two typology into distinctive types with a continuous character. The preliminary result indicates the high support rate of the "D" word in those less democratic countries is associated with a phenomenon that the word "democracy" has lost its distinctive semantic meaning and could embrace all desirable political values, covering any variety of political systems in the world.