Citizens in a number of supposedly consolidated democracies in North America and Western Europe have not only grown more critical of their political leaders. Rather, they have also become more cynical about the value of democracy as a political system, less hopeful that anything they do might influence public policy, and more willing to express support for authoritarian alternatives. The crisis of democratic legitimacy extends across a much wider set of indicators than previously appreciated.From the Journal of Democracy.
About 75% of Americans born in the 1930s think that it is essential to live in a country that was governed democratically (the comparable number is a bit over 50% in Europe). As people in the U.S. get younger this support wanes, with only 30% of people born in the 1980s agreeing. In Europe, support for democracy peaks in people born in the 1950s at about 57% (which is identical to the U.S. figure), and is about 45% for Europeans born in the 1980s.
Distrust of democracy is significantly higher as of 2011 than it was in the mid-1990s in both Europe and the United States. Now, almost a quarter of adults under 25 years old in the U.S., and about one in eight adults under 25 years old in Europe, actively believe that "Having a democratic political system" is a "bad" or "very bad" way to "run the country."
Support for authoritarianism increased among low and middle income respondents in the U.S. from 1995 to 2000, but then stayed fairly steady from 2000 to 2010 (it is currently about 32%). But, support for authoritarianism has steadily soared among upper income respondents in the U.S. from 1995 to 2010 from 20% to 35%.