Deterring Dictatorship: Explaining Democratic Resilience since 1900

40 Pages Posted: 19 May 2020

See all articles by Vanessa Alexandra Boese

Vanessa Alexandra Boese

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute

Amanda B. Edgell

University of Gothenburg

Sebastian Hellmeier

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Seraphine F. Maerz

University of Gothenburg

Staffan I. Lindberg

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

Date Written: May 2020

Abstract

Democracy is under threat globally from democratically elected leaders engaging in erosion of media freedom, civil society, and the rule of law. What distinguishes democracies that prevail against the forces of autocratization? This article breaks new ground by conceptualizing democratic resilience as a two-stage process, whereby democracies first exhibit resilience by avoiding autocratization altogether and second, by avoiding democratic breakdown given that autocratization has occurred. To model this two-stage process, we introduce the Episodes of Regime Transformation (ERT) dataset tracking autocratization since 1900. These data demonstrate the extraordinary nature of the current wave of autocratization: Fifty-nine (61%) episodes of democratic regression in the ERT began after 1992. Since then, autocratization episodes have killed an unprecedented 36 democratic regimes. Using a selection-model, we simultaneously test for factors that make democracies more prone to experience democratic regression and, given this, factors that explain democratic breakdown. Results from the explanatory analysis suggest that constraints on the executive are positively associated with a reduced risk of autocratization. Once autocratization is ongoing, we find that a long history of democratic institutions, durable judicial constraints on the executive, and more democratic neighbours are factors that make democracy more likely to prevail.

Suggested Citation

Boese, Vanessa Alexandra and Edgell, Amanda B. and Hellmeier, Sebastian and Maerz, Seraphine F. and Lindberg, Staffan I., Deterring Dictatorship: Explaining Democratic Resilience since 1900 (May 2020). V-Dem Working Paper 101, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3605368 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3605368

Vanessa Alexandra Boese (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg - V-Dem Institute ( email )

Sweden

Amanda B. Edgell

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Göteborg, 405 30
Sweden

Sebastian Hellmeier

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Seraphine F. Maerz

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Göteborg, 405 30
Sweden

Staffan I. Lindberg

University of Gothenburg - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

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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