Multiple studies in political science consistently hold that left-wing ideology renders individuals more prone to protest behavior. However, the familiar association between left-wing ideology and protesting is not empirically corroborated in all democratic nations. Building on existing theoretical principles and applying them to diverse political contexts, this article sheds light on puzzling variation in protest behavior across new and old democracies. It argues that it is not the left that engenders protest. Instead, we demonstrate that which political camp engages in protest behavior depends on its historical legacies and cultural liberalism. Historical legacies reflect the ideological configuration at democratization. Protesting tends to be more common in the ideological camp that opposed the pre-democratic political order. Simultaneously, it is culturally liberal individuals who more likely embrace protest participation, independent of their left–right identification. These theoretical expectations are supported through survey data analyses, explaining contrasting inter- and intra-regional variation in European democracies.
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