Munich Personal RePEc Archive

To Democratize or not to Democratize? The Sufficient Condition for Democratization

Apolte, Thomas (2023): To Democratize or not to Democratize? The Sufficient Condition for Democratization.

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According to a number of democratization hypotheses, the (old) elite of a so far non-democratic regime can have incentives to democratize voluntarily. We add to this literature the hypothesis that an old elite refrains from democratizing unless it can rely on the newly established democratic constitution to be self-enforcing. We develop a model that identifies a number of politico-institutional traits which are decisive for a future democracy to be self-enforcing and which, in turn, represent the preconditions for an old elite to democratize. Given considerable path dependencies in the evolution of politico-institutional structures, some of the new democracies' politico-institutional traits are inevitably inherited from their respective pre-democratic history. If, in this light, the shift of an inherited politico-institutional structure to a self-enforcing democracy is too large, the old elite refrains from democratizing in the first place. This explains why many countries' old elites voluntarily democratized while others did not.

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