The article presents an empirical study of the legitimation of the market economy in the public sphere and examines whether criticism of the market economy has increased as a result of the euro crisis. The research results support the hypothesis of a transformation of the legitimacy basis for the market economy and democracy. The traditional model of legitimation is based on separate principles for the market economy and for democracy. An alternative model, in which democracy must also meet standards of efficiency and of political participation, has its limitation. A third model, the model of elite responsibility, is currently on the rise.