How to Build Democracy after Authoritarian Breakdown: Insights from a Mixed Methods Approach
31 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2021
Date Written: May 2021
Mass movements that are able to overthrow a dictator do not always lead to democracy. Transition periods present narrow windows of opportunity in which activists face difficult decisions to build democracy and prevent authoritarian relapse. Existing scholarship offers limited guidance for pro-democracy forces because it focuses on unchangeable structural factors and cases with a known outcome. We propose an innovative approach for finding informative comparisons for ongoing transitions after authoritarian breakdowns. We quantify the similarity between all breakdowns caused by mass uprisings since 1945 based on their structural preconditions. We then apply our approach to Sudan's ongoing transition and draw lessons from three similar cases: Benin in 1990, the Philippines in 1986 (successful democratization) and Burma in 1988 (failed democratization). Our case studies suggest that democratic transition is possible in Sudan if pro-democracy forces maintain unity, build inclusive political agendas and keep the military committed to the democratic process.
Keywords: Democratization, democratic transition, authoritarian breakdown, matching, mixed methods
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