In This Review

Democracy and Its Alternatives: Understanding Post-Communist Societies
Democracy and Its Alternatives: Understanding Post-Communist Societies
By Richard Rose, William Mishler and Christian Haerpfer
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998, 272 pp.

How well have the east Europeans done in a decade of democracy-building? One indicator, these authors argue, is public opinion. From their in-depth polling data for nine states (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Belarus, and Ukraine), the authors conclude that the public in even the most democratically advanced postcommunist countries is less than wildly approving; in many cases, tolerance for undemocratic alternatives, including those of the past, rivals support for the status quo. All the same, large percentages would prefer genuine democracy if it could be had. This preference, along with the public's apparent patience and the significant but not decisive importance of current economic hardship, implies that the builders of democracy still have time and leeway -- provided they do not make a hash of it.