First Advisor

Melody Valdini

Term of Graduation

Summer 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science




Civil rights -- New Zealand -- Public opinion, Civil rights -- Turkey -- Public opinion, Civil rights -- United States -- Public opinion, National security, Democracy



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 136 pages)


Is global democracy declining? This is a question many have argued over, leading to multiple, oftentimes contradictory, answers regarding causes and potential solutions. This thesis seeks to explore the question of democratic decline by analyzing changes over time in public opinion survey data in three states- New Zealand, Turkey, and the United States- looking specifically at how the government has balanced the tradeoff between security and civil liberties in the post-9/11 world. I argue that long-term government prioritization of security over freedoms has eroded support for fundamental democratic norms, as citizens willingly accept restrictions to their rights in exchange for a sense of security, causing gradual democratic decline. The evidence from an analysis of survey data over the past ten years supports this theory, with New Zealand emerging as a best-case scenario that always prioritized freedom, and remains a strong democracy, Turkey as a worst-case scenario that strongly supported security over all else and quickly transitioned away from the fledgling democracy they were into full autocracy, and the US gradually, and worryingly, slipping deeper into hybridity with enduring restrictions on civil rights. Further, the gap between citizen perceptions of the abstract and reality of democracy appears to be growing, resulting in a general inability (or unwillingness) among citizens to see an increase in security policy as counter to democracy, in either an abstract or practical sense, despite evidence that expanding security is balanced out by a decrease in freedoms. While not the only factor leading to democratic decline, government prioritization of security policy over civil liberties has long term consequences for democratic survival and serious implications for the future.


© 2021 Carlyn Trumbull Madden

In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier