Empirical Dimensions of Electoral Democracy
51 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2020
Date Written: September 2020
This paper investigates conceptual ambiguities concerning the dimensionality of democracy and what it can tell us about political development. We explore variation in components of the Electoral Democracy Index from the Varieties of Democracy Project and evaluate the strength of their relationships to democratization and democratic stability. Factor analysis of these indicators reveals three latent dimensions that have different impacts on regime change. Regimes with greater levels of civic freedoms are associated with an increased likelihood of democratic transition and stability, whereas regimes in which suffrage was most predominant are among the least democratic. The three dimensions show noteworthy trends over time and space and constitute patterns that support conclusions about \paths to polyarchy" (Dahl 1971). The results challenge the notion that electoral democracy is two-dimensional and promote, instead, civic freedoms, vote quality, and suffrage as three distinct dimensions.
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