Stages of democratization

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Stages of democratization
The old regime breaks down.
New democratic structures are built. Initial fragility
These new structures become embedded; their removal is unthinkable: ‘consolidation’.
Structural factors :
– Factors that are ‘unchangeable’ or change slowly; ‘preconditions’
W. Germany 1950s: educated, literate population, but residue of authoritarian attitudes, poor
experience of Weimar democracy?
E. Germany 1990s: educated, literate, good knowledge of West German system – (relatively) easy adaptation once East German state collapsed
Mexico: as economy developed did potential for democratic structures increase? South Africa: little apparent scope for change?

Transitions theory

1. liberalization of authoritarian rule
2. civil society pushes the boundaries of change faster and farther
3. holding of fair elections of uncertain outcome.
Elite vs mass
West Germany – 1950s – mass element largely absent – ‘guided’ into democracy by Adenauer and economic success

East Germany 1990 – mass protests against communist rule undermine regime; when it crumbles no obstacle to unification
‘Wir sind das Volk’ (we are the [East German] people becomes ‘Wir sind ein Volk’ (we are one [united German] people)

Mexico – crises (economic, 1985 earthquake) brought gradual change. Ironically, pro-democratic electoral reform was greatest when ruling party
(PRI) was strongest. PRI needed a credible opposition. Both bottom up and top down (though former was stronger). Pres Zedillo (1994-2000)
accelerated reforms.

South Africa: Mass protests played a determinative role, but timing contingent on elite decisions…but elites lost control of process<br>

Domestic vs international factors

Germany 1950s:
Context of division, occupation: western allies insist on democratic renewal
Effective leadership and economi recovery provide space for accommodation with democracy
Germany 1990s
Gorbachev removes protection from East German state, end of Cold War
East German civic protest thus enabled, removing east German regime, paving way for unification
International – pressure from IOs, other states, donors, learning effect from reforms elsewhere, etc.
Domestic pressures come from crises or lack of ‘delivery’ of services, growth, etc.
South Africa
Domestic: uprising ‘ungovernability’
International: sanctions, censure, impact on economy

Transitional institutions

Rule of law :
Separation of powers; Allied armies as back up if needed … (g)
East Germany absorbed into ready-made rule of law from West
Constitutions, courts (SA)
more independent Congress (M)
Federal Electoral Institute (M)

‘Gauck-Authority’ (G)– opening of Stasi files;
Freedom of Information Agency (M)
Democratization doesn’t end with elections….
West Germany: importance of democracy in delivering prosperity, international rehabilitation and security (after experience of war, division)
South Africa: need to develop trust in institutions, strengthen accountability
Mexico: corruption, rule of law still needs strengthening. Acceptance of norms of democracy –
1950 25% felt best to have one party, 53% several parties
1997 7% felt best to have one party, 86% several parties
South Africa
Barely 30% citizens thought that MPs should hold the president to account.
Fewer than 40% agreed that “the government is like an employee; the people should be the bosses”, most preferring the view that “people are
like children; the government should take care of them like a parent”.
Only 10% thought that voters should hold MPs to account, 40% believed that presidents should be able to “decide everything”.

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