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Geddes: What do we know about democratization after 20 years

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Geddes. 1999. What do we know about democratization after 20 years?. Annual Review of Political Science 2: 115-44.

Her article should be called "What do we know about authoritarian collapse?" Her literature review does identify the major themes in the democratization literature, but most of the article is devoted to her new theory--which has nothing to do with democratization.

So what do we know about democratization? We only KNOW two things: (1) there is a correlation between democracy and development, though it's not clear that this is a causal relationship; (2) economic downturns make any regime more likely to collapse. We argue about three other things: (1) whether a split in the regime is necessary; (2) whether an elite "pact" is necessary; and (3) whether "stronger" outgoing regimes get better concessions.

Of those five points, only the first has anything to do with democracy. The rest involve regime collapse.

She seeks to show why we can't agree on the last three points by showing that they are the product of different TYPES of authoritarian regimes. There are three ideal types: military juntas, one-party states, and personalistic regimes. They are subject to different pressures and tend to end in different ways.

Military juntas: factions in the military play a "Battle of the sexes" game. Not all want the junta to remain in power, but all want the military to remain united. So when factional differences arise, the military is likely to negotiate its way out of power peacefully. [This phenomenon gives rise to the idea that an elite split is necessary for a transition.] [But if the military is really a cohesive, hierarchical structure, could it be a stag hunt? Probably the key difference is that military elites are less concerned with staying in power and more concerned with preserving the military as an institution.]

Personalistic regimes: factions in the dictator's clique play a staghunt game: it's better if we all cooperate in supporting the leader. These regimes tend to have a bloody end (coup, riots, whatever) because, in the face of exogenous shocks or trouble, the regime is likely to circle its wagons until it is defeated.

One-party states: factions within the party also play a staghunt game. Leaving the party and forming an opposition would deprive you of all the pork you get within the party--so it's better to just stay in it. These regimes tend to be more open--when challenged, they don't circle their wagons; instead, they try to coopt the critics. One party states are most resilient to exogenous shocks. [but this could lead to gradual enfranchisement, couldn't it? Still, she says this isn't democratization, b/c the party stays in power. Seems like this type of regime would fit most clearly into Przeworski's 1991 model.]

Different authoritarian regimes have different resilience to exogenous shocks: one-party state > personalistic > junta.

Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Geddes, Barbara (author)Comparative PoliticsDemocratizationInstitutionsOrigins of InstitutionsRegime TypeAuthoritarianism

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