Authoritarian Institution Building and the Quality of Democracy in Taiwan and Thailand
IPSA/ECPR Joint Conference “What Happened to North-South?," Panel: Political Institutions in Authoritarian and Hybrid Regimes, Sao Paulo, 16-19 February 2011
28 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2012
Date Written: February 16, 2011
How does institution building during authoritarianism affect the consolidation of a young democracy? We address this question by comparing two Asian Third Wave democracies: Taiwan and Thailand. Taiwan transited to democracy in the late 1980s and has since then undergone a process of steady consolidation. In contrast, Thailand’s seemingly promising process of democratic consolidation that had started in the mid-1990s came to a halt with a military putsch in 2006. We argue that the main reason for this difference in trajectories lies in the institutionalization of regime politics during authoritarianism. Our hypothesis is that the institutionalization and formalization of authoritarian politics enabled the Taiwanese regime elites to overcome factionalism and to regulate society, while Thai politics remained far more unorganized and factionalized. By extension, this enabled the Taiwanese regime to steer development, extract resources and improve social welfare, thereby creating output legitimacy. Such processes were largely absent in Thailand.
Keywords: institution building, autocracy, democracy, Taiwan, Thailand
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