Students of political democratization have employed the notion of “democratic consolidation” in unclear and inconsistent ways. The article reconstructs and. Much of the literature on ‘democratic consolidation’ has adopted a forward‐ looking, future‐oriented perspective. Rather than studying past regimes, it tries to . Andreas Schedler, who is currently attached to the Facultad Latinoamericana de possibly most, students of democratic consolidation are studying today’s.
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Viewpoints and Horizons
A democracy becomes consolidated—that is, it is expected to endure—when political actors accept the legitimacy of democracy and no actor seeks to act outside democratic institutions for both normative and self-interested reasons.
On one the hand, when democracy becomes routinized, institutionalized, and normalized, acting outside or in violation of democratic norms is both unappealing and disadvantageous for politicians and other political actors. On the other hand, equating consolidation with endurance may strike some scholars and students as a descriptive tautology; consolidated democracies are those that survive, and surviving democracies are those that are consolidated.
The way in which to measure and define consolidation, therefore, is debated by scholars in the field. Time is an especially important component of many empirical works that seek to explain regime endurance. Paradoxically, however, long-lasting democracies do not seem to be immune from a degradation in the quality of their democracy.
This article focuses on the institutional, economic, social, and international causes of democratic consolidation as distinct from democratization.
For example, although there is no consensus on whether economic growth and prospects for democratization are positively linked, scholars generally agree that economic growth contributes to democratic consolidation. Meanwhile, the role of civil society is as ambiguous in consolidation as it is in democratization. This article concludes with an overview of literature on deconsolidation, which challenges the notion that democratic consolidation is irreversible.
Just as many different types of authoritarian regimes and paths of transition exist, so do many roads to consolidation. Some of the authors cited in this section view democratic consolidation as a gradual process of overcoming the problems left by the previous authoritarian regime.
Others argue that consolidation is the result of deliberate choices made by political actors. Although Diamond rejects theories that privilege preconditions the success of consolidation, he also suggests that consolidation may take many different paths.
Schmitter and Karl echoes this view and further stresses that consolidated democracies will not be able, nor should be expected, to solve all sociopolitical problems.
He pushes this argument further by proposing that imperfect democracies that are not fully and formally institutionalized can also endure.
Moving away from arguments about preconditions, Alexander presents a theory of consolidation based on the strategic choices of political elites. Schedler and Munck and Verkuilen discuss issues related to the conceptualization of democracy and the measurement of consolidation.
The Sources of Democratic Consolidation.
“What Is Democratic Consolidation?” by Andreas Schedler
Ithaca, NY, and London: Cornell University Press, Premised on the idea that beliefs about political outcomes generated by a regime are important in determining whether democracy is consolidated, the author takes a rational-choice approach to examine the strategy of elite actors on the right side of the political spectrum in five European states.
Although he acknowledges that individual choices are conditioned by context-specific issues, Alexander makes the argument that elites must choose democracy and often do so for self-interested reasons. Johns Hopkins University Press, Consolidation of new democracies requires strong political institutions, horizontal as well as vertical accountability, the rule of law, a vibrant civil society, and improved economic performance, which all generate legitimacy for the regime.
Instead, the authors suggest that consolidation is a process of stabilization, routinization, and institutionalization dmeocratic patterns of political behavior. In the long run, informal practices, such as clientelism, are indeed antithetical to democratic survival.
Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. University of Oklahoma Press, Huntington argues that a reversal of transition is less likely and consolidation of democracy is more likely to take place in more economically developed states that transitioned peacefully and early in the wave, have previous experience with democracy, and have the support of international actors.
Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Linz and Stepan offer an intuitive definition of consolidation—a democracy is consolidated when no political actors seek to overthrow it. Consolidation requires the existence of a functional state and presence of five reinforcing arenas: This article offers a systemic assessment existing data sets of democracy used in large- N analysis and evaluates three challenges that researchers face in their construction: Instead, he suggests that if consolidation is determined by whether a democracy will endure, then typologies of polyarchy must include informally institutionalized democracies—those in which actors act for particularistic rather than universalistic reasons.
These imperfect democracies can endure despite the lack of a close fit between formal rules and political behavior.
Schedler tackles the expanding field of definitions of democratic consolidation. He proposes that scholars use the definition most appropriate to their starting point: If consolidation is complete when a democracy is likely to endure, then observable measures of endurance are needed.
Schedler suggests that behavioral evidence is superior to attitudinal and economic evidence because it is more proximate to the phenomenon of interest: This leads the author to a somewhat self-evident conclusion that democracies endure when political actors behave democratically.
He supports this conclusion with evidence of crisis management in Latin America. The authors outline an intentionally broad understanding coonsolidation what democracy is by focusing on its conceptual definition, procedures, and institutions, as well as its underlying principles not enshrined elsewhere, such as contingent consent and bounded uncertainty.
They point out that democracies may take many forms and will not necessarily be better at solving various socioeconomic problems.
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Project MUSE – What is Democratic Consolidation?
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Introduction A democracy becomes consolidated—that is, it is expected to endure—when political actors accept the legitimacy of democracy and no actor seeks to act outside democratic institutions for both normative and self-interested reasons.
General Overviews Just as many different types of authoritarian regimes schdler paths of transition exist, so do many roads to consolidation.
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