Some Roads from Despotism to Democracy

Option 1:

B. C. Smith

Elites breakdown: [top down-endogenous]

  1. the transition is illuminated via an alleviation of repression, a wave of political association and expression, and negotiations between the elites.  Many elites transition because it is in their own best interest; they negotiate the transitional elements and form pacts to protect interest groups (228).

Domestic Crisis—allowing democracy to surface [bottom up-endogenous]

  1. Economic crisis,
  2. Also, populism may create a transition; instead of an elite breakdown, such as in Benin (Smith, 231).
  3. International Pressure may “enforce” democratic assimilation [exogenous]
    1. Huntington’s analysis that 75 percent of third wave countries were catholic and the Catholic Church actively called for democratization

 OPTION 2:     

O’ Donnell and Schmitter (1986)


  1. Hard-liners [maintain authoritarian regime] v. Soft liners [seek democratization]
  • Endogenous resurrection of civil society
  • Negotiated pacts between the “liners” sets new rules for power
  • Liberalization can exist without democratization (10).
  • Individual level: elements of liberal tradition (e.g., habeas corpus, privacy, fair trial, free speech) (7).


1.  Citizenship: equal protection under the law. No President is above the law.

2.  The Procedural Minimum: secret ballot, universal suffrage, regular elections,

partisan competition, associational recognition and access, representative accountability (8).

3. Former rules of citizenship applied to:

Former [deficient] regime (coercive control, social condition),

Expanded to persons not previously covered ( nontaxpayers, foreigners, minorities),

Extended into institutions not previously covered (state agencies, military, parties, education) (8).

Democratic Transition

  1. Stability in democratizing institutions
  •      “Elite Settlement” helps found the democratic regime
  •      “Elite convergence” contributes to its survival
  •       Important to extend participation to all elites
  •       Announcement of election: cconstituent assembly

2.  Representatives:

  • Formation of political parties
  • The election becomes the founding event

Democratic Consolidation

  1. Free and lively civil society
  2. Relatively autonomous and valued political society
  3. Rule of law
  4. Institutionalized economic society


Bratton and van de Walle (1997) 

Political Mobilization and Protest

1.  Political competition

  •      Number of trade unions allowed by previous regime

2.  Political participation under old regime—number of elections

3.  A and B account for roughly half the variation in political protest

Political Liberalization and Constitutional Reform

  1. Important to hold a national conference on reform
  •     Highly correlated to incidence of protests

2.   Restricted forms of political of political competition

  •      Measured by the size of the largest parliamentary party

Founding Democratic Elections

  1. Very little effect of economic factors
  2. Function of interaction between military actors and mass protesters, domestic political actors, and the institutionalization of the opposition
  3. Importance of domestic political actors OVER international economic and political factors.


Bunce, Comparative Democratization, Big and Bounded Generalizations

Breaking with Authoritarian Rule

  1. Political leaders are central to the founding and design
  •       Survival v. collapse of democracy
  •       Pacting should not be a half-way house between democracy and dictatorship

Building Democratic Institutions

  1. Democratic consolidation prior to economic liberalization
  •       Authoritarian elites try to trade political ownership for economic ownership
  •       Economic winners get a huge stake in system, losers ostracized
  •       National consensus about democracy needed—focus
  •       Economic agenda could stifle-limit democratic consolidation

2.   Federalism

  •       Parliamentary systems appear to be better than presidential systems

3.  The nation and the state

  •       Settled borders
  •       Definition of the nation and description of nationalism

4.  Nationalism is wanton: may demobilize or mobilize

5.  A strong state is a guarantor of democracy

  •       Rule of law enforced
  •       Civil society encouraged to proliferate

Devising Ways to Elicit the Cooperation of the Former Authoritarian Elite

  1. Pacting
  2. Political elites play a central role in democratization
  •       Democratization depends “heavily on the interests, values, and actions of the political leaders, whether ensconced, downwardly mobile, or upwardly mobile.
  •       This applies to all three waves of democratization

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