Elections and Elite Violence on the Road to Democratization, 1800-2010
32 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
This paper presents an alternative view of how and why countries democratize, using a comprehensive breakdown of all transitions from 1800 to 2010. I show that 9 in 10 transitions occur through one of three channels: in the aftermath of a violent internal conflict among elites (overwhelmingly coups and civil wars), through elections in which the ruling party remains competitive post-transition, or from foreign coercion (primarily defeat in war). Whereas scholars typically think of democratization in terms of the regime giving up power, I argue instead that transitions occur when either a violent elite conflict weakens the regime's grip on power or a ruling party expects a share of power post-democratization. This framework improves predictions of democratic transitions, as they are shown to follow major political events like coups, elections, and wars. Further, the democratizing effects of popular protest and socioeconomic factors are mediated through these triggering events. Lastly, the mode of transition strongly predicts later democratic survival.
Keywords: Democratization, democratic survival, coups, elections, autocracy
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