National identity between democracy and autocracy: a comparative analysis of 24 countries

Erhardt, Julian; Wamsler, Steffen; Freitag, Markus (2021). National identity between democracy and autocracy: a comparative analysis of 24 countries. European political science review, 13(1), pp. 59-76. Cambridge University Press 10.1017/S1755773920000351

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Recognizing democratic backsliding and increasing support for authoritarianism, research on public preferences for democracy and its authoritarian alternatives has gained traction. Moving beyond the extant focus on economic determinants, our analysis examines the effect of national identity, demonstrating that it is a double-edged sword for regime preferences. Using recent European Values Survey data on 24 European countries from 2017 to 2018, we show that civic national identity is associated with a higher support for democracy and lower support for authoritarian regimes, whereas the reverse holds for ethnic identities. Further, economic hardship moderates these relationships: it strengthens both the negative effect of ethnic national identities and, to some extent, the positive effect of civic national identities on democracy support vis-à-vis authoritarian alternatives. This has important implications for the survival of democracy in times of crises and the study of a cultural backlash, since social identity matters substantively for individuals’ responses to economic hardship.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


03 Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Institute of Political Science

UniBE Contributor:

Erhardt, Julian Jonas, Wamsler, Steffen, Freitag, Markus


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 320 Political science




Cambridge University Press




Julian Jonas Erhardt

Date Deposited:

05 May 2021 15:17

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:50

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

National identity; Conceptions of nationhood; Support for democracy; Regime preference; Economic hardship




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