Elections and Elite Violence on the Road to Democratization, 1800-2010

32 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2014

See all articles by Michael Miller

Michael Miller

George Washington University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Miller, Michael, Elections and Elite Violence on the Road to Democratization, 1800-2010 (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2451632

Michael Miller (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Washington, DC 20052
United States

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