One of the most striking findings in our polling history has been about the value Australians place on democracy. While young Australians have been surprisingly ambivalent about democracy as a system of government in the past, in 2019, the gap between younger and older Australians on democracy is narrowing.
In 2019, support for democracy is stable, with 65% of Australians saying that ‘democracy is preferable to any other kind of government’. One in five (22%) say that ‘in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’, while 12% say that ‘for someone like me, it doesn’t matter what kind of government we have’.
The gap between older and younger Australians on the importance of democracy – which has been striking in previous Lowy Institute Polls – appears to be narrowing. A majority of Australians aged 18–29 years (55%) in 2019 express a preference for democracy, compared with 68% of Australians aged over 30. In previous years this gap has been as large as 28 points. However, there is still a significant proportion (30%) of 18–29 year olds who say that ‘in some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable’.
Now a question about democracy. Below are some statements about democracy. Please indicate which one of the three statements comes closest to your own personal views about democracy.
Dashed line indicates change in mode. See Methodology.
Satisfaction with democracy
In 2019, the Lowy Institute asked for the first time how satisfied Australians were with democracy, a question that has been asked by the Australian Election Study (AES) since 1969.
The AES has reported falling levels of satisfaction with democracy since 2007. Despite having had five prime ministers in just over five years, the Lowy Institute Poll this year finds that 70% of Australians are satisfied with the way democracy works in Australia.
On the whole, are you very satisfied, fairly satisfied, not very satisfied or not at all satisfied with the way democracy works in Australia?