Comparative European Politics

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 249–270 | Cite as

Authoritarian legacies and mass left–right regime support in new democracies: The Baltic States and Southern Europe compared

Original Article


The formation of left–right (LR) identities depends upon effective partisan and ideological differentiation at the supply level and is associated with the existence of free political competition. In a new democracy, however, does the type of authoritarian legacy (left-wing versus right-wing) have any effect on the impact of citizen LR identities on regime support? If so, then how does that impact evolve over time? To answer this, we compare the impact of citizen LR identities on regime support in six countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for the Baltic States, and Greece, Portugal and Spain for Southern Europe) over a 20–30-year period. We show that in both the cases of the evaluation of authoritarian regimes and democratic diffuse support, authoritarian legacy has a significant and rather robust impact. In the case of democratic diffuse support, criticisms come more from the left in the Baltic States and more from the right in Southern Europe, while the opposite was found in the evaluation of authoritarian regimes. We also demonstrate that over time, while the relationships remain significant – albeit much weaker – for the evaluation of authoritarian regimes, they almost disappear in terms of democratic diffuse support.


left–right ideology new democracies regime support values Southern Europe Baltic states 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science and Public Policies & CIES-IUL, ISCTE – IUL (Lisbon University Institute)LisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Tartu University, Institute of Government and Politics (IGP)TartuEstonia

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