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Citizens’ democratic views and support for international governance

Democracy
Globalisation
Governance
Steffen Mohrenberg
ETH Zurich
Steffen Mohrenberg
ETH Zurich
Thomas Bernauer
Tina Freyburg
Universität St Gallen
Sandra Lavenex
University of Geneva

Abstract

The question of legitimacy is key to our understanding of international governance, regardless of whether one has a skeptical or a positive view of international institutions. We address these issues by investigating citizens' understandings of democracy and their support for international governance. We approach individual perceptions of the legitimacy of international governance by focusing on an individual’s support for delegation of political authority from one's nation state to the international level. Our research question thus reads: To what extent is citizens’ support for international governance determined by their views of what constitutes a democracy? Specifically, we argue that individuals' perception of international decision-making as legitimate and their support for international decision-making are primarily driven by their understandings of democracy. These understandings, or predispositions, summarize what citizens consider the most important building blocks of a successful democracy. The paper is innovative in that it focuses on the link between citizens’ understandings of democratic governance and their perceptions of the democratic legitimacy of international forms of governance. We argue that understanding this link is particularly important to understanding the public’s response to global governance, as well as for insights into the democratic legitimacy of governance beyond the nation-state. In terms of data and methodology, we explore use data collected in a recent survey in four established European democracies (UK, F, CH, and D).