Institutional Subsystems and the Survival of Democracy: Do Political and Civil Society Matter?

35 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2015 Last revised: 24 May 2016

See all articles by Michael Bernhard

Michael Bernhard

University of Florida

Allen Hicken

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science

Christopher M. Reenock

Florida State University - Department of Political Science

Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg - Varieties of Democracy Institute; University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 1, 2015

Abstract

How do two central institutional subsystems of democracy – party systems and civil society – affect the persistence of democratic regimes? Despite the ability of each of these institutions to provide sources of countervailing power that make politicians accountable and thus responsive, distributionist accounts of democratic breakdown provide few insights on how such institutions may encourage parties to reach accommodation. We argue that these institutions provide credible threats against anti-system activities that would otherwise threaten the democratic compromise. We test our argument with newly available data from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project by analyzing all episodes of democratic breakdown from 1900-2001. Using a split population event history estimator, we find evidence that these institutions not only forestall the timing of breakdowns among transitional democracies but also that a strong party system is critical to setting democratic regimes on the path of consolidation.

Suggested Citation

Bernhard, Michael and Hicken, Allen and Reenock, Christopher M. and Lindberg, Staffan I., Institutional Subsystems and the Survival of Democracy: Do Political and Civil Society Matter? (April 1, 2015). V-Dem Working Paper 2015:4, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2613824 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2613824

Michael Bernhard (Contact Author)

University of Florida ( email )

Allen Hicken

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Christopher M. Reenock

Florida State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

567 Bellmy Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States
850-644-4542 (Phone)
850-644-1367 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://mailer.fsu.edu/~creenock/

Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://v-dem.net

University of Gothenburg - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

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