Political Behavior

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 89–113

In Principle and in Practice: Learning Political Tolerance in Eastern and Western Europe


    • Department of Sociology, Social Work and AnthropologyUtah State University
  • Pamela Paxton
    • Department of SociologyThe Ohio State University
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11109-006-9017-2

Cite this article as:
Marquart-Pyatt, S. & Paxton, P. Polit Behav (2007) 29: 89. doi:10.1007/s11109-006-9017-2


Political tolerance is a key democratic value believed to undergird successful and healthy democracies. In nascent democracies especially, citizens must tolerate the views and participation of opposing groups in order to ensure methodical transfers of power with successive elections. Yet, despite its importance, little research considers tolerance outside established democracies. In this paper, we compare political tolerance across eight Eastern European countries and six Western countries. We demonstrate that mean levels of tolerance are lower in the newly democratized countries of Eastern Europe and then examine whether they are a function of East Europeans’ limited experience with democracy. We also test whether established individual-level theories of tolerance replicate across this wide range of new and old democracies. We find some support for theories of democratic learning and also show that models of tolerance operate differently across the range of countries in our sample.


Political toleranceCross-nationalDemocracy

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006