Democratic Gleams from Competitive Authoritarian Regimes: [political poetry].

  1.                               But why can’t democracy survive!?
  2. A President may choose three ways to subvert democracy:
  3.             First, a constitutional amendment lets him run again,
  4.             Second, he appoints a parrot successor instead,
  5.             Or, new rules guarantee that the parrot suffers his dread.[1]
  6. Then, the President—to be strong—does contrive:
  7.                         That only his party is well-established.
  8.                         That the ruling circle remain close friends,
  9.                         That the President’s “reforms” expand their “formal power”—
  10.                                     Repressive strides.
  11.                         That the opposition is divided, powerless—politically dead.
  12.                                     That citizens are demobilized,
  13.                                     That the fine denizen doth never politically drive.[2]
  14.                           Say some Citizens attempt a political heist?
  15. Well,
  16.     Economic performance affects regime survival twice:
  17.             Poor performance shrinks credibility and the peoples’ support,
  18.             Lower money supply means lower payouts to the players of sorts,
  19.                         Both stop being so appreciative and nice.[3]
  20. Stolen elections are not up in the air
  21.             Until the people revolt and begin to tear
  22.                         Down the corrupt players—demanding:
  23.                                     Elections must be free and fair.[4]
  25.                                                Don’t stall…
  26. There are 3 links between elections and democratic development:
  27.             First, elections enable democratic progress, because,
  28.             Elections are understood by all, apart from liberty laws;
  29.                         and, elections permit political protests—
  30.                                     Most poignantly at the ballot box, after all.[5]
  31.                            When does a dictator run out of steam?
  32. The strongest regimes are excellent democracies,
  33.             Or merciless dictatorships.
  34. “Fake” democracies or wannabe dictators—something in-between;
  35. Illustrate weak institutions and poor economic performance in reality. [6]
  36.    The mixture of authoritarian and democratic measures confuses—
  37.                                                                                 the people turn lean.
  38. To keep power, the authoritarian regime will usually get very mean:
  39. They:   Control the media, parliament, courts, and elections [on TV]!
  40.             Harass and oppose the civil society with whom they disagree!
  41.             Divide civil society! Divide opposition groups! Intervene![7]
  42.                            Can Democracy be born and form…
  43.                         When the opposition wins the election?
  44. Unfortunately, the departure of an authoritarian regime,
  45.             Mostly benefits a new authoritarian regime,
  46.                         Instead of a victory for democracy. [8]
  47.                        What should an opposition do…
  48.                           to depose Authoritarian Rule?
  49. First you must create belief  [and then you plan the strategy]:
  50.    Opposition groups, civil society, organizations and
  51.             People must truly think
  52.    T’is possible for those tyrants to fall from power and
  53.             Lose the election thing.
  54.    That optimism reigns! Change is imminent!
  55.             This is not a dream! [9]
  56. Then, the strategy:
  57.     ONE opposition leader will be tried by public opinion—do not divide.
  58.             S/he must be active, ambitious, inspired, nationwide, unified;
  59.     Framing appeals, orchestrating massive voter registration drives;
  60.             The Youth! The Youth you must mobilize! It is your time! [10]
  61. The “youth movements” must vigorously engage electoral change;
  62.             Begin training sessions; collect money, assemble people. Do explain:
  63.             Election monitoring, electoral reforms and
  64.                      voter-turnout campaigns!
  65.             Exit polls must occur so that electoral fraud will be averted!
  66.                              Be bold and unashamed! [11]
  67.                                    Without action, there is no change.
  68.                                                         So we change!
  69.                                          Who’s help can we engage?!
  70. Western leverage: external pressure to become a democracy,
  71.             From the U.S., the E.U., and other allies;
  72. Western linkage: the density of economic, political, diplomatic, social,
  73.             And organizational ties;
  74.    Does contain causal mechanisms and assist regime trajectories.
  75.             Use these exogenous action lines![12]
  76. Leverage and linkage negatively impact dictators and despots,
  77.             The former creates a standard for worldly acceptance:
  78.                         Civil liberties, free and fair elections—a level playing field.
  79.             The latter makes known autocratic abuses and deviations:
  80.                         Reporting, publicizing, fighting—creating a Citizens’ Shield!
  81. Leverage means that western pressure forces democracy’s place
  82. Through military force, diplomatic pressure—hard power’s embrace!
  83. Linkage engages “soft power:”[13] preferences between people,
  84. Making jobs, education, treaties, tourism, free media—
  85.                                                                         A Democratic Race!
  86. When leverage and linkage are High:
  87.     A “double boomerang”[14] effect against norm-violating governments
  88.                         will materialize.
  89.             Hostility forms domestically and internationally, and so
  90.                         The dictator does politically die!
  91. When linkage is High but leverage is Low
  92.             Democratizing pressure will be diffuse, indirect and slow.[15]
  93. When linkage is Low and leverage is not
  94.             Democratic pressure is intermittent:[16]
  95.                                   Despots hang about snide–unstopped!
  96. You prolly can guess
  97.            without me telling you more
  98.                  That when leverage and linkage are too LOW
  99.                         International democratizing pressure will be minimal.[17]
  100.                               Ignorance doth tell knowledge, “Hide!”
  101. Yes! Now uncover and highlight I must,
  102.      Many things have been articulated
  103.                    by decent political scientists.
  104.                                     Matriculate. Chronicle.
  105.                                                  And learn with us!
  106.                                  Don’t stall…focus.
  107. Svolik, for instance, examined 303 nonconstitutional exits
  108.               of leaders in dictatorships and finds
  109.                        205 stemmed from Coup d’ etat,
  110.                                32 whence the people did rise.
  111.                        30 transitioned to democracy, 20 were assassinated,
  112.                                 And 16 foreign nation fiats ended their time.[18]
  113. Within the former analysis there is a moral hazard to see.
  114.       First, the “dictator” will use all ability to obtain more power—
  115.                         At the expense of the “ruling coalition”—the plebes.
  116.        Second, the ruling coalition threatens a coup
  117.                         Forcing the dictator to agree
  118.                         Not to usurp more power.[19]
  119.                                       To give plebes more money.
  120. Both play with imperfect information,[20]
  121.       In this rational choice game,
  122.               So don’t find it surprising,
  123.                    That dictatorships change.
  124. Coups occur in “contested” dictatorships much more frequently
  125.             Than in “established” authoritarian regimes.
  126.      Since once the dictatorship has been established,
  127.             Credible threats of a coup diminish—
  128.             Threats are abandoned before they’re finished; because,
  129.   Established dictators murder endogenous democratic dreams.[21]
  131. Indeed, once a dictator is established,
  132.             Only exogenous factors may help the ruling class release
  133.                         The country from the dictator. Perhaps a popular uprising?
  134.                                     Or a foreign intervention? Assassination…[22]
  136.                                                      An example, please!
  137. For example, Lenin told the ruling elite
  138.             That Stalin was usurping too much power
  139.                         In their communist setting.
  140.      But they didn’t listen
  141.               Soon after Stalin killed them all! [23]
  142.                         And created a totalitarian regime!
  143.               What should have happened to keep Lenin’s communism alive?
  145.      I favor democracy…
  146.                                       Don’t be stubborn. Be Enlightening!
  147. So the “ruling coalition” can threaten a coup once they have “credibility,”
  148.   To discourage a dictator from diverting resources and ruling-
  149.                    exclusively,
  150.          Thus the “ruling coalition” must know that the coup will succeed-
  151.                    ex ante,
  152.    Accounting for the high costs, and then the dictator’s imperfect signals,
  153.          Ex post power grabs… should help the “ruling coalition” succeed.[24]
  154. There are contested power trajectories
  155.       in the beginning of an authoritarian regime,
  156.    All members of the ruling coalition are “first among equals,”
  157.             But then through luck and created opportunities,
  158.        Dictators ceaselessly attempt to amass power,
  159.                   And if they succeed—
  160.                   Because they are not stopped,
  161.             Then “equals” becomes an empty trait,[25]
  162.                    Votes turn out meaningless
  163.                     Amidst the dictator’s place.
  164.                                                     Grazie.
  165. You are welcome.
  166. Anything else….
  167.                             Must political enemies be friends?
  168. Personal relationships are not at stake,
  169. Initially, it’s the procedural issues to be braved.
  170. “Electoralist fallacy” occurs when elections take place; however,
  171.   If the opposition never really had a chance to operate; power,[26]
  172.    Democracy t’was turgid and sour! Democracy never clocked an hour!
  173. And when the new government agrees to form a democracy,
  174.     Many times they might continually disagree,
  175.           About which institutions they aught integrate
  176.                 To balance and check an inveterate… despots,[27]
  177.                                     Yet the despots might remain.
  178.                                                 Again, democracy is slain!
  179.                              When do you know that a dictatorship
  180.                                      Has turned into a democracy?
  181.                               Just in case I desire that form of state.
  182. Democracies come with many institutions and modes,
  183.     But there are a few tenets, which as a requisite, are observed;
  184.          For me to agree, that a government is in actuality…
  185.                                                          A Democracy.
  186. First, the people making the laws must be elected by the people—
  187.               popular vote,
  188. Open “contestation” to win office is available to everyone—
  189.               and everyone knows,
  190. That the new government can change the laws—
  191.                there are democratic flows,
  192. Whereas; the judicial, legislative, and executive powers
  193.                are separate shows![28]
  194. Second, liberalization is not the same as democratization.
  195.       The former may entail habeas corpus, a free media, and 
  196.                recognizing the opposition,
  197.       The latter requires free competitive elections so that the
  198.                opposition may justly win!
  199.       There can be liberalization without honest elections—
  200.                 without democratization.[29]
  201.                             So when do I know it’s a democracy!?
  202. Behaviorally, democracy is consolidated when:
  203.                            No significant social, political, economic,
  204.                            National or institutional actors seek ends
  205.                            Through non-democratic, violence, or foreign intervention,
  206.                            To secede from the state. Behaviorally,
  207.                                             There are no anti-democratic trends.[30]
  208. Attitudinally, democracy is consolidated when:
  209.                             Democratic procedures and institutions
  210.                             Govern collective life-
  211.                             According to public opinion.[31]
  212. Constitutionally, democracy is consolidated when:
  213.                         Conflict within the territory of the state
  214.                         Is resolved, habitually, by democratic procedures and laws.
  215.                         When institutions conform to democratic mores,
  216.                         According to the constitution–regardless of flaws. [32]
  217. Consequently, those three measures are obliged to be present,
  218.     For any observer—from any land,
  219.          To call a place a democracy,
  220.               To say that democracy stands…
  221.                                                           I shall remember.
  222.       Let us shake hands.
  223.                                                          May these words keep.
  224.       Continue to learn…
  225.                                                                  my friend.

[1] Bunce and Wolchik. 2010. Defeating Dictators, Electoral Change and Stability in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes. World Politics, Vol. 62, 1, 43-86 (from 43-44).

[2] Ibid. page 48.

[3] Ibid. page 49.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid. page 59.

[7] Ibid. page 60.

[8] Ibid. page 62.

[9] Ibid. page 67.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Levitsky and Way. 2006. Linkage versus Leverage. Rethinking the International Dimension of Regime Change. Comparative Politics, Vol. 38, 4, 379-400.

[13] Ibid, page 385.

[14] Ibid. page 386.

[15] Ibid. page 387.

[16] Ibid. page 388.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Svolik. 2009. Power Sharing and Leadership Dynamics in Authoritarian Regimes. American Journal of Political Science. Vol. 53. 2, 477-494 (from pages 477-478).

[19] Ibid. page 492.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid. 478.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid. page. 480-483.

[24] Ibid. 481.

[25] Ibid. 482.

[26] Ibid. page 4.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Linz and Stepan. 1996. Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. (page 3).

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid. page 6.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.


3 thoughts on “Democratic Gleams from Competitive Authoritarian Regimes: [political poetry].

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