Visualizing Authority Patterns over Space and Time
53 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2020
Date Written: February 11, 2020
Unidimensional measures of democracy fail to account for the complex and varied nature of political systems. This article disaggregates the concept of democracy and proposes a multidimensional conceptualization to account for this variation in institutional cofingurations. Three theoretically informed dimensions are featured: participation, electoral contestation, and constraints on the executive. The three dimensions constitute a cube covering all regime types, in which we place countries using V-Dem data from 1789 to 2018. The cube of democracy patterns reveals several interesting observations. We trace historical patterns of democratization and autocratization, and discuss how global and regional developments take different paths at different times. Our conceptualization makes it clear that political systems with a similar score along a unidimensional scale can in fact be quite distinct. In addition, across the globe over 200 years, certain configurations of political institutions never occur. In other words, incompatible institutional pairs do not exist or are extremely short lived. This multidimensional conceptualization ultimately opens up a new field of research in which institutional change can be studied in greater detail across countries and over time.
Keywords: measuring democracy, institutions, Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Data, institutional incompatibility
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