This article considers the experiences of 24 countries that began a transition toward democracy between 1973 and 1993. To understand why some of these transitions succeeded while others failed, it compares the explanatory power of three factors: the path a country followed through the transition process, the type of authoritarian regime that was in place, and the protracted nature of the transition. It shows that in countries where actors hold diverging preferences, one-party regimes refuse to exit, or transitions are protracted, the result can as easily be a continuation of authoritarianism as of democracy. However, if they successfully install democracy, then these cases are the most likely to continue towards consolidation. Thus, difficult transitions, while risky, offer the highest payoff for democratization.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations