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Mass Mobilization and the Durability of New Democracies

60 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2017 Last revised: 6 Sep 2017

Mohammad Ali Kadivar

Brown University

Date Written: April 26, 2017


A generation ago, political scientist Samuel Huntington commented that “democratic regimes that last have seldom, if ever, been instituted by mass popular actors” (1984:212). This paper subjects this observation to empirical investigation using statistical and comparative-historical analyses of new democracies over the past half-century. Contrary to Huntington’s suggestion, I argue that new democracies growing out of mass mobilization are more likely to survive than new democracies that came about without mobilization. Survival analysis of 112 young democracies based on original data show that the longer the mobilization, the more likely the ensuing democracy is to survive. I use three case studies, then, varied on length of mobilization and democratic outcome to investigate the mechanisms. In particular, sustained unarmed uprisings have generated the longest-lasting new democracies – largely because they are forced to develop an organizational structure that provides a leadership cadre for the new regime, forges links between the government and society, and strengthens checks on the power of the post-transition government.

Keywords: Mobilization, Democratization, Democratic Survival, Social Movements

Suggested Citation

Kadivar, Mohammad Ali, Mass Mobilization and the Durability of New Democracies (April 26, 2017). Available at SSRN:

Mohammad Ali Kadivar (Contact Author)

Brown University ( email )

111 Thayer Street
Box 1970
Providence, RI 02912-1970
United States


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