State or Democracy First? Alternative Perspectives on the State-Democracy Nexus
Democratization Vol. 21, Nº 7 (2014): 1221–43
23 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2013 Last revised: 15 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 14, 2014
This paper addresses the nexuses between democracy, understood in minimal procedural terms, and three key aspects of the state: the state as a political center with a monopoly of the use of violence over a population within a given territory, the state as a political center which rules over a population that has a sense of nationhood, and the state as a political center that delivers public goods beyond political order, such as economic and social welfare. We consider two perspectives on these state-democracy nexuses: one that holds that, to ensure that democratization is successful and democracy enduring, various challenges pertaining to the state must be tackled before the democracy question is addressed; another that posits that the challenges pertaining to the state can be addressed in the course of a process of democratization or through democratic procedures. And we conclude that the oft-repeated proposition “no state, no democracy” is at best only partially true and many of its derivations are false. Indeed, “no democracy, no state” is a more plausible claim and one that is especially relevant in the contemporary period.
Keywords: state, democracy, democratization, nationalism, administration
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