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Chapter

This chapter examines democracy and democratization in relation to authoritarian regimes. It begins with a discussion of the three ‘waves’ of democratization that have occurred worldwide since the nineteenth century, the third of which began in 1974 with the demise of the long-standing authoritarian regime in Portugal, followed by the end of Franco's dictatorship in Spain in 1975. The chapter goes on to consider the main approaches to analysing democratization, different analytical models of democracy such as polyarchy and liberal democracy, and indexes to measure democracy. It also reviews the more recent literature on authoritarianism and the reasons for its persistence before concluding with an assessment of the challenges that confront democracy in the face of authoritarian revival.

Chapter

Natasha Lindstaedt

For many years, the concept of an authoritarian regime was considered to be one large category, with little understanding of how these regimes differed. The study of authoritarian regimes has come a long way since. Though all authoritarian regimes share in common that there is no turnover in power of the executive, there are considerable differences that distinguish autocracies. Authoritarian regimes today are increasingly attempting to use ‘democratic’ institutions to prolong their rule. This has led to a rise in competitive authoritarian regimes, or hybrid regimes. In spite of these changes, authoritarian regimes are more robust than ever. This chapter explains the different ways in which authoritarian regimes are categorized. The chapter then explains how the different types of authoritarian regimes perform, and what factors make them more durable. As the chapter demonstrates, autocratic regimes have become increasingly better equipped to maintain themselves.

Chapter

This chapter identifies sources of authoritarian durability. To maintain a firm grip on power, authoritarian regimes must maintain some support among three primary constituencies: the elite, the opposition, and the broader public. After discussing the relationship of these groups to regime durability, the chapter outlines the two primary strategies that autocracies use to maintain control—repression and co-optation—and the benefits and risks of each. Repression is defined as a form of socio-political control used by authorities against those within their territorial jurisdiction to deter specific activities and beliefs perceived as threatening to political order. Dictatorships have also learned to use political institutions—namely elections, political parties, and legislatures—to co-opt their opponents. The chapter then highlights other factors that research has shown to enhance regime durability, including regime type, state capacity, a country's access to natural resource wealth, and whether the regime was born out of a revolutionary struggle.

Chapter

This chapter details the factors that increase the prospects of authoritarian regime failure. In-depth accounts of the downfall of specific authoritarian regimes show that it is most often a confluence of risk factors that bring down regimes. It is important to underscore that problems in dictatorships may persist for years without leading to breakdown. Authoritarian regimes can and often do persist in the face of elite divisions and defections, poor socio-economic conditions, corruption, and demographic challenges such as youth bulges. Such long-term factors increase a regime's risk of collapse by reducing a government's resilience to other short-term factors that often initiate its downfall. These short-term ‘triggering events’ include economic crises, fraudulent elections, and natural disasters. The chapter then considers how external forces—such as foreign aid, sanctions, and diffusion—can cause authoritarian breakdown.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on the pathways through which authoritarian regimes break down. Authoritarian regime exits fall into two general categories. Authoritarian regimes break down as a result of top-down processes initiated by regime insiders, such as military coups and elections. Authoritarian regimes also break down as a result of bottom-up pathways, including protests or insurgencies. The chapter then shows how the mode of regime failure influences a country's subsequent political trajectory. Some modes of exit like coups rarely lead to democratization, while other pathways, like peaceful protest, are more likely to usher in democracy. The chapter also discusses a different type of political transition: the departure of the regime's leader. It traces the pathways of authoritarian leader failure and explains how authoritarian leader exits influence the chance that the regime falls with the leader.

Chapter

This chapter examines authoritarianism, providing a framework for understanding authoritarian regimes. Although all autocracies share a disregard for competitive elections and pluralism, the structural differences between them are vast. The chapter begins by discussing totalitarian regimes. Scholars developed theories of totalitarianism to take account of the new type of dictatorship that emerged in Germany under Hitler and the Soviet Union under Stalin. This research represents some of the earliest efforts to disaggregate autocracy. Political science research subsequently built on these early efforts, and scholars developed a number of ways to distinguish between different types of authoritarian systems. The chapter then presents a categorical framework for understanding differences across autocracies based on whether political power and decision-making reside with a single individual (personalist dictatorship), a party (single party dictatorship), the military (military regimes), or a royal family (monarchic dictatorship). Some dictatorships combine elements of more than one of these categories.

Chapter

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the threats to democracy. Although the number of democracies in the world remains at or near historic highs, there are a number of important trends accelerating beneath the surface that threaten to reverse democracy's progress. In particular, democracies are facing mounting challenges from within; autocracies are evolving and adapting their survival strategies in ways that make them a more formidable challenge to democracy; and international developments are creating conditions conducive to the spread of autocracy. Although these developments make it easy to grow pessimistic about democracy's future, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that democratic decline is not inevitable. Authoritarian regimes are evolving and adapting, but it is unlikely in the long term that these political systems will have the flexibility to change to the extent that today's challenges will require.

Chapter

This chapter evaluates those ambiguous systems that mix democratic characteristics with authoritarian tendencies. Since the end of the Cold War, there has been a substantial rise in the number of these hybrid regimes. In fact, hybrid regimes have proliferated to such an extent that scholars contend they are now ‘the modal type of political regime in the developing world’. The chapter then maps the terrain between democracy and dictatorship. The goal is to highlight the wide variety of political systems today and underscore the rather astonishing frequency with which contemporary authoritarian regimes possess seemingly democratic features. The chapter identifies the different types of hybrid systems that occupy this middle ground—focusing on electoral democracy, competitive authoritarianism, and hegemonic authoritarianism—and defines their key characteristics. It also examines why hybrid systems have become more common in the post-Cold War era.

Chapter

Doh Chull Shin and Rollin F. Tusalem

This chapter examines the processes of democratization in East Asia over the past two decades. It first provides a historical background on transitions to democracy in the region before assessing the extent to which third-wave democracies have consolidated by appraising the quality of their performances. Analyses of Freedom House and the World Bank data show that the East Asian region has been slow in responding to the surging wave of global democratization in terms of not only transforming authoritarian regimes into electoral democracies, but also consolidating electoral democracies into well-functioning liberal democracies. The Asian Barometer surveys, on the other hand, reveal that the mass citizenries of China and Singapore endorse their current regime as a well-functioning democracy, and are not much in favour of democratic regime change in their country. The chapter concludes with a discussion of prospects for democratic regime change in China and Singapore.

Chapter

20. Indonesia  

Dynamics of Regime Change

Gyda Marås Sindre

This chapter examines the dynamics of regime change in Indonesia since 1998, with a particular focus on political mobilization against the backdrop of institutional reform. In the decade since the collapse of the ‘New Order’ — that is, the authoritarian military-based regime that governed Indonesia from 1966 to 1998 — Indonesia has become one of the few success stories in the post-1970s wave of democratization in the Global South. In addition to being considered the most stable and the freest democracy in South East Asia, Indonesia remains the region’s largest and fastest growing economy. The chapter first provides an overview of the legacies of authoritarianism in Indonesia before discussing the government’s radical reform agenda of democratization and decentralization after 1998. It then looks at political mobilization and participation that accompanied regime change in Indonesia and concludes with an assessment of the role of civil society in political mobilization.

Chapter

23. Mexico  

Transition to Civil War Democracy

Andreas Schedler

This chapter examines Mexico’s gradual and largely peaceful transition to democracy, followed by a sudden descent into civil war. In the closing decades of the twentieth century, Mexico’s major challenge was political democratization. Today, it is organized criminal violence. Vicente Fox’s victory in the presidential elections of 2000 ended more than seventy years of hegemonic party rule. However, a civil war soon broke out, sparking a pandemic escalation of violence related to organized crime. The chapter first traces the history of Mexico from its independence in 1821 to the Mexican Revolution of 1910–1920 before discussing the foundations of electoral authoritarianism in the country. It then considers the structural bases of regime change in Mexico, along with the process of democratization by elections. It concludes by analysing why a civil war broke out in Mexico following its transition to democracy.

Chapter

Aníbal Pérez-Liñán

This chapter examines the key features of modern democracy, as well as its origins. It first explains what democracy means in the field of comparative politics, before discussing different models of democracy, including presidential democracy, parliamentary democracy, and democracies oriented towards consensus or majoritarian rule. It then describes the conditions—economic and political, domestic, and international—that allow some countries to become democratic but preserve others under the rule of dictatorships. In particular, it analyses the variables that facilitate the democratization of dictatorships and the factors that place democracies at risk of becoming authoritarian regimes. Finally, it reflects on the future of democracy and looks at the challenges that lie ahead for new generations of citizens.

Chapter

This chapter focuses on democracies, democratization, and authoritarian regimes. It first considers the two main approaches to analysing the global rise of democracy over the last thirty years: first, long-term trends of modernization, and more specifically economic development, that create preconditions for democracy and opportunities for democratic entrepreneurs; and second, the sequences of more short-term events and actions of key actors at moments of national crisis that have precipitated a democratic transition — also known as ‘transitology’. The chapter proceeds by discussing the different types of democracy and the strategies used to measure democracy. It also reviews the more recent literature on authoritarian systems and why they persist. Finally, it examines the challenges that confront democracy in the face of authoritarian revival.