Chapter 4 - What Drives Democracy : The Internal Factors
A regime is legitimate when its people believe it is the most appropriate form of government for
their country. Therefore, it has the moral right to make laws, collect taxes, direct resources &
In some cases (Philippines, Africa), authoritarian failures to deliver development, control
corruption or maintain order solidified a broad sense that the regime had forfeited its legitimacy
(moral title to rule). In others (South Korea, Taiwan) the development successes of auth. rule
created a more educated & politically demanding public w/ new ideas on what constituted a
moral title to rule.
A dictatorship can't tolerate a large pool of organized, confident citizens who actively reject the
legitimacy of the regime. In a democracy, when the opposition organizes & wins over a majority
of the public, it brings about a change in the governing party or coalition. In a dictatorship, when
the opposition organizes & mobilizes a majority of the public, it brings about a change in the
Democracies depend on legitimacy & voluntary compliance for stability. Democracy by nature is
a system of popular consent. There is also a limit to how much force can be used while still
calling a regime a democracy. The smaller the proportion of citizens who believe a democracy is
legitimate, the more vulnerable the system is to breakdown, by a military overthrow, an executive
seizure of power etc.
Dictators also face legitimacy dilemmas. More difficulty establishing & maintaining legitimacy.
It has become harder & harder to claim that authoritarian rule is intrinsically good. Catch 22 → if
it doesn't deliver what the people expect in exchange for tolerating auth. rule - order & economic
develop - it gives up its only basis of legitimacy.
The causes of a democratic transition looks at "fractures" in autho. regimes. Divisions within the
leadership or the support base of the regime constitute a central factor in democratic transition. In
every instance of democratic transition, the dictat. loses its will, its cohesion, or its base before it
loses its power.
Auth. regimes lose domestic leg. when the fulfill their self-proclaimed missions & become
redundant - or when they completely fail to do so & clearly cannot deliver. Exs: Greece,
Philippines → dramatic splits generated by bad economic or political performance.
The staggering failure of auth. rule figured most prominently in the regime transitions that began
in Africa in early 1990. 3 decades of independence had produced miserable development across
Most Africa countries were crippled by massive external debts. Dependence of foreign aid,
steadily increased, but despite an yearly inflow of $15 billion, standards of life had declined in
many countries since independence.
Failures of performance were not just economic but political as well. 1-party rule became
increasingly unreasonable & oppressive & the rulers became very rich.
Political & bureaucratic corruption became so common that it was in fact that main way to get
rich. Rulers ate away their countries' capital.
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Many despised dictatorships stagger on for years b/c they have the resources to buy off support
from the military & a network of party elites, top bureaucrats, businessmen etc. But the resources
to co-opt must come from somewhere, & when the state performs really bad that it can't collect
taxes from its people, it must find alternative sources or fail.
If the regime is lucky enough to control a territory that produces - oil, diamonds, copper or
natural resources - it may be enough to sustain the regime. Otherwise, it must depend on foreign
Auth. success in producing economic development - another driver for democratic transition. Exs
: South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil. Standards of living rose briskly/ boomed under dictatorship.
Seymour Martin Lipset → the powerful relationship b/w economic development & democracy.
Freedom House → 44 democracies among the world's 50 most developed states are all liberal
Development makes transitions to democracy more likely. Development sustains democracy
whenever it emerges. "More development always increases the probability that a transition to
democracy will occur". Poorer the country → the greater the likelihood of breakdown of
Economic development transforms a society. 1) It alters a country's social & economic structure,
widely dispersing power & resources. 2) thoroughly shifts attitudes & values in a democratic
Eco. develop. enlarges the middle class & raises levels of education & info among the general
public. Inequality tends to fall, reducing the social distance & political polarization b/w classes.
Poli Scientist Carles Boix → as countries develop, incomes do become more equally distributed,
which reduces the threat of excessive taxation & intense class conflict.
Interest coalitions arise. As more people join the middle class, the power of populist labour &
peasant organizations declines. Middle-class groups become confident of their ability to advance
their interests through electoral politics.
Daniel Lerner - psychic mobility. As people move to the city, they adopt new political attitudes &
beliefs, transformed by rising education levels & global communication. As people acquire more
income & information, they become more politically aware & confident, more inclined to
participate in politics & to think for themselves.
People in growing #s form & join organizations - including professional & student associations,
trade unions etc. As these organizations grow in # & resources, they become more demanding &
more capable of checking & challenging the state, generating the foundations for a vibrant civil
society. As a country gets richer, the balance of power shifts from the state to the society.
The higher the levels of education, income, mass media exposure & occupational status, the more
democratic the people's attitudes & behaviour. Educated people → more tolerant of differences &
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opposition, respectful of minority rights, more valuing of freedom. More inclined to participate in
politics, to join orgaz. & more confident of their capabilities to influence government.
Inglehart → (western societies) people who grew up in periods of economic prosperity & security
tended to have "post materialist" values, emphasizing ex: freedom & the environment. Those who
grew up in periods of economic insecurity & stress tended to have "materialist" values (emphasis
on economic & physical security).
The post-Soviet states & low-income developing countries bend strongly toward survival values
(also towards culturally traditional & religious values). Western, high-income countries bunch
strongly around self-expression values ( & secular-rational values). Middle & upper-middle-
income developing countries in Latin America & Asia tend to be in the middle - a transition
toward self-expression values (Korea, Taiwan).
Cultural shift toward tolerance generates higher levels of peaceful protest activities that challenge
ruling elites. As people embrace self-expression values, challenge authority, they come to
demand the institutions to protect individual freedom & choice that encompass liberal democracy.
It has a strong causal impact on the emergence of electoral democracy & effective, liberal
democracy b/c these values generate the associations & civic actions that compel rulers to be
more honest, accountable & respectful of the law.
Econ. development as an integrated & powerful process releasing individual choice & autonomy.
As people's income, edu., access to info, & occupational status rise, they become more
independent financially & intellectually.
The Rise of Civil Society
Broad changes in social structure, driven by economic development & social change, as the key
drivers of democracy. "The very essence of democracy is that it reflects people power & not
simply the constitutional choice of enlightened elites."
Problems w/ O'Donnell's & Philippe's arguments → 1) the image of civil society they present,
one of resurrection, resurgence, & restructuring - a return to open expression & free associations
that is largely accurate for Europe & Latin America but inaccurate for new democracies since
1974. Doesn't account the process of eco. development that creates organizations & capacities
that never existed before. 2) isolate the critical contribution of civil society into the period after
the auth. regime has