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OXFORD STUDIES IN DEMOCRATIZATION

Series editor: Laurence Whitehead

Changes for
Democracy

Oxford Studies in Democratization is a series for scholars


and students of comparative politics and related disciplines.
Volurnes will concentrate on the comparative study of the
democratization processes that accompanied the decline and
termination of the cold war. The geographical focus of the
series will primarily be Latin America, the Caribbean,
Southern and Eastern Europe, and relevant
experiences in Africa and Asia.

Actors, Structures, Processes

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

LEONARDO MORLINO

..................

Democracy, Agency, and the State:


Theory with Comparative Intent
Guillermo O'Donnell
Regime-Building:
Democratization and International Administration
Oisin Tansey
Rethinking Arab Democratization:
Elections without Democracy
Larbi Sadiki

' '

Accountability Politics:
Power and Voice in Rural Mexico
Jonathan A. Fox
Regimes and Democracy in Latin America:
Theories and Methods
Edited by Gerardo L. Munck
Democracy and Diversity:
Political Engineering in the Asia-Pacifi.c
Benjamin Reilly
Democracy and the State in the New Southern Europe
Edited by Richard Gunther, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros,
and Dimitri A. Sotiropoulos
International Democracy and the West:
The Role of Governments, Civil Society, and Multinational Business
Richard Youngs
Democrarie Accountability in Latin America:
Edited by Scott Mainwaring and Christopher Weina
Democratization: Theory and Experience
Laurence Whitehead

OXFORD
UNIVERSITY PRESS

Contents
List of Figures
List of Tables

lX

Introduction
Part I The Basics
1. What Theory in Democratization Studies?
1.1 Theories of institutional change
1.2 A Retreat from theory?
1.3 What aie the possible theoretical developments?
2. Definitional Conundrums
2.1 Core definitions
2.2 Minimalist empirical definition
2.3 Main normative definitions
3. Are There Hybrid Regimef.
3.1 A widespread phenomenon?
3.2 Definition and analytic dimensions
3.3 Empirical cases of hybrid regimes, or sheer fantasy?
3.4 What kind of classification?
3.5 Where to go from here?

7
7
11
18

25
26
31
34

48
49

so
57
60

67

Part li Transitions, Consolidations, Crises

77
77

4. What Transitions to Democracy?


4.1 When is there a regime change?
'4.2 The 'first' transitions and installations
4.3 Subsequent transitions
4.4 Installation of democracy: dimensions of variation
4.5 Installation of democracy: explanatory factors
4.6 An addendum on parties
4. 7 What is the core mechanism of change?

91
97
106

5. Domestic Anchoring
5.1 Do consolidation and crisis exist?

109
109

79

83
85

Contents

Vlll

5.2
5.3
5.4
5.5

Legitimation and anchoring


The main patterns: Southern Europe
Contextual explanations and theoretical foundations
How much 'travel' can be done?

6. External Anchoring
6.1 Methods of influence: what to consider?
6.2 Layers of irnpact and cycles of change: the framework
6.3 Testing the framework empirically
6.4 Key final remarks

112
119
128
132
144
144
150
160
179

Part III Qualities Deepening


7. Analysing Democrarie Qualities
7.1 The question
7.2 What is 'quality'?
7.3 'Good' democracy and other normative notions
7.4 What qualities?
7.5 The procedures
7.6 The two substantive dimensions
7.7 The outcome
7.8 Recurrent patterns of subversion
7.9 What to focus on?
Appendix

191
191
194

195
196
197
205
208
211
215
216

8. TODEM Applied
8.1 Accountabilities and connections
8.2 From procedures to results and contents
8.3 Where are the qualities?
Appendix

240
249
258

9. Concluding Remarks

264

223
223

List of Figures
2.1 Most salient definitions of democracy

44

3.1 What kind ofhybrid regime?

63

4.1 Initial installation: Dahl's 'box'

80

4.2 Modes of democratic transition

84

4.3 Significant dimensions in the installation of democracy

90

4.4 Explicative factors in the installation of democracy

96

5.1 Patternsand cases of democratic consolidation:


Southern Europe

120

5.2 Patterns and cases of democratic consolidation:


Eastern Europe

140

6.1 EU cycles and layers of international democratic


anchoring (EUCLIDA)

157

7.1 A few recurrent patterns of quality subversion

214

8.1 Democrarie qualities: COJillections among procedural


dimensions

225

8.2 Constitutional accountability assessments in selected


East European countries

226

8.3 Freedom strengthens equality and vice versa?

243

8.4 Quality democracies

250

8.5 Democracies without quality

251

8.6 The web of qualities: Northern and Central Europe


(selected countries)

254

Bibliography

269

Index

8.7 The web of qualities: Southern Europe

255

293

8.8 The web of qualities: Eastern Europe (selected countries)

256

8.9 The web of qualities: Latin America (selected countries)

257

8.10 Models and cases of democracies without qualities

257

Introduction

St Anthony's. I would like to thank Jan Zielonka for this possibility and all
consequent opportunities I had to work on the revisions.
I would also like to acknowledge very gratefully the comments on the entire
manuscript or on some chapter of it of a few colleagues and friends, including
Nancy Bermeo, Ian Carter, Donatella Della Porta, Michael Freeden, Timothy
Garton Ash, Morgan Uewellyn, Liborio Mattina, Angelo Panebianco, Riccardo
Pelizzo, Daniela Piana, Francesco Raniolo, Eugenio Somaini, Claudius
Wagemann, Laurence Whitehead, and Jan Zielonka.
Thus, looking back over these years of research, if I recall the famous
metaphor by the Greek poet Archilochus, quoted by Isaiah Berlin (1953: 1)
at the beginning of his essay on Tolstoy: 'the fox knows many things, but the
hedgehog knows one big thing', this work should show that my model is the
hedgehog. Whether the goal of knowing 'one big thing' has been even
partially achieved is eventually up to the reader to decide.

PART I
THE BASICS

1
What Theory in Democratization Studies?
For many years a key issue in comparative studies has been: how far can
democratic theory be developed while avoiding the double trap of the banality of over-general assertions, on the one hand, and the short-sighted view
of an important phenomenon, on the other hand, because of the limits and
constraints imposed by a specific analysis of either one case or few cases
within a limited time span? To deal with this topic we can start by asking: does
a theory of dem9cratization or of regime change exist? This is an issue that has
been around for decades in dassie political science literature, but it has been
recast here in the new context of the spreading of democracies since the early
1970s. A reasonable response to this question should consider two other
streams of Iiterature in addition to the one focusing on the most recent
democratization phenomenon alone. They consist of the attempts to find
theoretical propositions and ~podels at a high level of abstraction to explain
the institutional changes, ancf the quantitative analyses of a large number of
cases that basically develop the path-breaking work by Lipset in the 1950s
(1959). As we will see in the following sections, what immediately distinguishes these two groups of scholars from the democratization scholars is how
theoretical goals take priority in the two groups whereas there is a sort of
retreat from theory in the third group. To appreciate better these differences
the theoretical Iiterature and the empirical studies will be discussed first
before examining the theoretical contributions of democratization scholars.

1.1 THEORIES OF INSTITUTIONAL CHANGE


Attempts to develop general theoretical propositions about institutional
changes were made by Krasner (1984) with his notion of punctuated equilibria, then by Berins Collier and Collier (1991) and the notion of ~ritical
jundures, which recalls a similar concept proposed by Rokkan (1970), and,
almost a decade later, by Pierson (2000: esp. 263ff.), whose notion of path
dependence is one of the most important attempts to develop a theory of

The Basics

What Theory in Democratization Studies?

political change. Drawing on language borrowed from economics, Piersan


sketches out his theory on the basis of a few key propositions: 'specific
patterns of tirning and sequence matter'; 'a wide range of social outcomes
are often possible'; 'large consequences may result from relatively small and
contingent events'; 'particular courses of action, once introduced, are often
difficult or virtually impossible to reverse even if their consequences prove to
be disastrous'; 'political development is punctuated by critical moments and
junctures which shape the basic contours of sociallife'; and, finally, in the
political realm, the high density of institutions, the central role of collective
action, the complexity and opacity of politics, compounded by the short-term
horizons of politicians and the 'stickiness' of politics, make path dependence a
relevant key theory. Following Pierson, Mahoney (2001) also makes a wellconceived attempt to apply such a theory to some cases of democratization in
Central America.
Adopting a similar perspective for analysing and explaining political
change, Goodin (1996: 24-5) usefully refers to the three basic ways in which
institutions can be modified: by accident, evolution, and conscious intervention. Accordingly, we could say that the first transitions to democracy came
about by accident; transitions with strong characteristics of continuity, such
as the Mexican, Brazilian, and Chilean cases, display an evolutionary path;
and the discontinuous transitions brought about by different and identifiable
actors in other cases can be seen as the result of conscious intervention.
Thelen and Steinmo (1992: 16-18) also identified four 'sources of institutional dynarnism': (1) broad changes in socio-economic or political context
that make previously latent institutions more salient; (2) changes in socioeconomic contex:t or political balance that 'produce a situation in which old
institutions are put in service of different ends, as new actors come into play
who pursue their (new) goal through existing institutions'; (3) exogenaus
changes that 'produce a shift in the goal or strategies being pursued within
existing institutions'; and ( 4) 'political actors adjust their strategies to accommodate changes in the institutions themselves' through a dramatic change or
'piecemeal change'. In addition, Mahoney and Thelen (2009: 1-37) effectively
elaborate on four more precisely developed 'modal types' of gradual institutional changes: displacement, namely the 'removal of old rules and the introduction of new ones'; layering, i.e. the 'introduction of new rules on top or
alongside existing rules'; drift, which is the 'changed impact of existing rules
due to shifts in the environment'; and conversion, that is to say, 'the changed
enactment of existing rules due to their strategic redeployment'.
Despite their interest and importance, however, the studies by Goodin,
Krasner, Berins Collier and Collier, Pierson, Thelen and Steinmo, Mahoney
and Thelen, besides other works by Steinmo et al. (1992), Thelen (2004), and

the analysis of critical junctures by Capoccia and Kelemen (2007) (just to cite
the best-developed ones), cannot be considered useful pieces of a theory of
democrafuation or of regime change for a number of reasons. One is their
very high level of abstraction. But the main reason is simply that they have
been devised with different research goals to those of transition to democracy
or crisis or other aspects of democratization. As their principal focus is
change, gradual or otherwise, in well-established democratic contex:ts they
1
cannot cope with key questions about democratization or regime change.
Although we will come back to some of these theoretical proposals in
Chapter 8, here we might immediately add that a useful and crucial notion
for understanding political change might have been that of 'critical juncture'.
But as Capoccia and Kelemen wisely state, critical junctures, even in the
moderate way they define them, i.e. as 'relatively short periods of time during
which there is a substantially heightened probability that agents' choices will
affect the outcome of interest' (2007: 348), are 'rare events' as 'the normal
state of an institution is either one of stability or one of constrained adaptive
change' (2007: 368) of the kind suggested by Mahoney and Thelen (see
above). In actual fact, as anyone who has clone field research in countries
where there has been a transition to democracy will be tempted to say: they
are very rare events, if they exist at all. This view is backed up by the literature,
which stresses that 'no politipl elites operate in a vacuum ... politicians ...
risk being displaced by a nef.r set of representatives if they do not meet the
interests and demands of their supporters' (Boix 2003: 9). Thus, at the very
least the suggestions ernerging from this stream of literatme should be
'translated' and mademorerelevant for the theoretical analysis of democratization (for more on this, see Chapter 8).
The second group of quantitative scholars who have developed relevant
and highly ambitious theoretical propositions are those who adopted a
quantitative strategy with a large number of cases. Vanhanen (1990, 1997),
in his search for 'the ultimate underlying factor of democratization' or 'the
common factor of democratization' (Vanhanen 1997: 25-6), first in 147
countries and then in 172 countries, developed an 'evolutionary theory of
democratization' where this factor is identified as the distribution of power
resources2 and democracy is measured by aggregating the degree of competition and that of participation. 3 lt is not relevant here to emphasize that this
seems to involve a quantitative reshaping of a dassie theory in the analysis of
democracy. In fact, the distribution of power resources is actually a different
way oflabelling econornic and social pluralism. Moreover, pluralism, competition, and participation have been the dassie loci of democratic theory at least
since Rousseau, Tocqueville, and several more recent authors such as Lipset
(1960), Dahl (1970), or Sartori (1987). Notwithstanding a few reasonable

The Basics

What Theory in Democratization Studies?

criticisms that can be made of the method used to measure pluralism and
democracy (for example, Norris 2008: 63-5), the study by Vanhanen, who is
well aware of the limits ofhis explanation (see 1997: 155-66), is a significant
preliminary step towards a more precise explanation of democratization.
Vanhanen's work can be complemented by the analysis of Przeworki et al.
(2000) on the connections between economic development and democracy,
though some of their most interesting observations concern the performance
of democracy and dictatorships in different domains. 4 Their key point shows
how 'strong and tight' the relationship is between economic development,
measured by per capita income, and democracy. More controversial is the
relative importance they attribute to this factor compared to others, such as
politicallegacy, social structure, cultural traditions, institutional framework,
and international context (Przeworki et al. 2000: Chapter 2, esp. p. 79). They
also clarify very effectively that there is no linear relationship between economic development and transitions to democracy that is compatible with a
wide range of economic Ievels and that there is a definite strong relationship
with the survival, if not consolidation, of democracy (Przeworki et al.:
98, 103).
Although a relevant early chapter ofhis book concerns 'a theory of political
transition', the issue Boix (2003) chiefly tackles is the conditions of stable
democracies, in addition to other less directly relevant aspects. He does so by
developing a model for the preferences and resources of social actors and
individuals, explained by three factors: the degree of economic equality; the
nature of economic assets, determined by their mobility; and the distribution
of political resources to repress or Outmanoeuvre opponents. There is no
doubt that Boix's model, which also recalls aspects explored by Vanhanen, is
one of the most successful attempts since Lipset to provide a socio-economic
explanation of democratic stability, with data going back about two hundred
years to the early nineteenth century.
The work of Acemoglu and Robinson (2006) can also be mentioned in this
review. These two authors propose a simplified theory of conflicts where the
role of socio-economic forces in the creation and consolidation of democracy
is analysed. A set of game theoretical hypotheses is developed with reference
to the strength of a well-organized civil society, the impact of economic crises,
the sources of elite income, the Ievel of inter-group inequality, the role of the
middle dass, and the positive irnpact of economic globalization complemented by non-majoritarian democratic institutions. The weakness of this analysis is that the key hypotheses are not really tested. In fact, besides a general
quantitative picture of existing democracy, basically in the 1990s, there is a
cursory analysis of four cases in different moments (Great Britain, Argentina,
Singapore, South Africa) and with different paths to democracy. In short,

there is an unacceptable disparity between the theoretical apparatus, a mixture of common sense and clever observations, and the empirical support. It
seems ~ excellent example ofhow not to do good empirical theory. 5
The 'revised theory of modernization' by Inglehart and Welzel (2005)
complements the previous works by adding a better knowledge and understanding of economic aspects in connection with the cultural changes that are
so important in democratization. More precisely, with the essential contribution of the results of several analytic surveys, 6 the authors single out the
cultural changes brought about by socio-economic development, which
include higher individual autonomy, the emergence of self-expression values,
and other additional consequences for human development. The findings of
these and other works with sirnilar characteristics mark an irnportant step
towards explaining and developing a theory of regime change. However, these
contributions are more pertinent when the focus is on democratic survival,
consolidation, _and stable democracies rather than when it comes to dealing
with the transition to democracy or democratic deepening. 7 Moreover,
because of the approach and the research question, attention is actually
devoted to the phenomenon as a whole rather than to di:fferences between
cases and above all-and this is very irnportant for the perspective being
pursued here-to the different, fundamental, and most specific recurring
aspects within the macro-p:t;ocesses of democratization. Finally, the authors
of these works are themselves lucidly aware of the limits of an exclusively
statistical analysis. On the whole, their work can be regarded as a first,
necessary step, which requires a subsequent, deeper and more qualitative
analysis of the key aspects involved in the transition to democracy, consolidation, crisis, and an issue far removed from the perspective of these works,
namely, the deepening of democracy, as well as of the evolution and di:fferences between cases or groups of cases. In short, they are theoretical proposals
and significant research accomplishments. But they still do not answer the
questions that are irnportant for a deeper understanding of the whole phenomenon of democratization.

10

11

1.2 A RETREAT FROM THEORY?


When we consider the groqp of scholars who have focused more specifically
on Southern European transitions to democracy in the early 1970s 'and on
other changes of regime in the subsequent decades, the picture appears to be
the opposite: there are questions, but not theoretical results. To start with, one

The Basics

What Theory in Democratization Studies?

of the most authoritative statements is that made by O'Donnell and Sehnritter


(1986: 3): 'We did not have at the beginning, nor do we have at the end ... a
"theory'' to test or to apply to the case studies.' This statement was echoed
several years later by McFaul (2002: 244): 'the project of constructing a
general theory of democratization may very well fail ... The unique pattems
generated by the fourth wave of regirne change in the post communist world
suggest that the search for a general theory of democratization and authocratization will be a long one.'
Consideration of the contributions made in the field reveals a wide range of
empirical research and theoretical results. A first, still meaningful overview of
democratization literatme is the review by Valerie Bunce (2000: 715), who
distinguished between theoretical propositions at a high level of generalization and regional propositions. At the higher level of abstraction Bunce
singles out five broad propositions, some of which also go back to previous
dassie analyses. The first regards a high level of economic development as a
guarantee of democratic continuity; the second concems the centrality of
political leaders in the founding and designing of democracy; the third
stresses the assets of parliamentary rather than presidential systems for 'the
continuation of democratic govemance'; the fourth considers the salience of
the settlements of'national and state questions' for 'the quality and survival of
democracy'; and the fifth concems the key importance of the rule of law for a
fully fledged democracy. In addition, regional generalizations relate to the
salience of 'pacting', that is, of reaching agreements and accommodation in
the democratic transitions of Southem Europe and Latin America; the advantages of breaking with the past in Eastem Europe; the high correlation
between democratization and economic reform in a capitalist direction in
Eastern Europe; and the threat to democracy in Latin America and postsocialist Europe because of the weakness of the rule oflaw. Even if we overlook
the studies by Geddes (1999: 140), who 'found little evidence in a set of 163
regime transitions ... for the claim that pacts increase the likelihood of
democracy', and by McFaul (2002: 213, 243), who shows how in Eastem
European countries 'successful democratic transition did not follow the
pacted path' and consequently 'in the long stretch of history, the successful
transitions from communism to democracy may look like the norm, while the
pacted transitions and transitions from above in Latin America and Southem
Europe may look like the aberration', we can readily agree that these propositions cannot build any theory of democratic transition, either general or
regional.
The picture becomes much richer when 'the state of art', as delineated by
Berg-Schlosser (2007) and Berg-Schlosser and Mitchell (2000), is added. 8
First of all, both Berg-Schlosser and Munck (2007) present and discuss the

adopted concepts, the quantitative and qualitative analyses carried out, as well
as the main empirical findings in the field. The main findings of the very full
account of democratization provided by Berg-Schlosser are as follows:
research conceming social classes as 'prime agents' of democratization is
inconclusive; the analysis of consolidation should be substituted by an analysis of stability for more focused and clearly formulated questions; the explanations of democratic transitions are extremely varied; the old proposition
about the association between the level of economic development and democratic stability is still very solid; the influence of international factors can be
strong; and, above all, there is a lack of a theory of democratization. 9 On
. international factors, specifically, they became a core feature of other analyses
of transitions, especially Eastern European transitions, through authors such
as Whitehead (1996), who points to the three mechanisms of 'contagion',
'control', and 'consent', or Linz and Stepan (1996: 72-81), who discuss the
salience of the foreign policies of other countries-the USA for one-together
with 'zeitgeist' "and 'diffusion', or those who have been doing research on
the enlargement of the European Union (EU) (see Pridham et al. 1994; but
also Pevehouse 2002; Schimmelfennig and Secleimeier 2005; Magen and
Morlino 2008; and others).
Several other subsequent contributions basically confirm the key point I
wish to make in this chapter and also clarify and specify the positions and
rationale of different authorl. Thus, for example, Whitehead (2002) establishes the background for an analysis of democratization as a long-term, nonlinear, open-ended process, but by setting up an original 'interpretavist'
approach, in which he also states that 'it avoids spurious rigour and untenable
claims of causal necessity' (Whitehead 2002: 34) and displays scepticism
about tne possible merits of such a theory. 10 O'Donnell et al. (1986) seem
to have been aware of this since the beginning, as already said above, and
McFaul (2002) echoed them by developing a contrasting hypothesis to the
one on pacts. Linz and Stepan (1996) demonstrate a similar awareness.
I might add here that the analyses proposed by these and other authors who
have worked on several cases in Southern Europe and Latin America focus in
particular on the following: the main characteristics of the previous regime;
the important role performed by 'pacts' or elite agreement on the institutions
to build (see also above); the 'resurrection' of civil society; the limited role of
political parties; the salience of contingent consensus on the institutions to be
set up; the enormaus uncertainties of the entire process of transition; and the
importance of the first, fodnding elections. Put differently, what all these
authors actually propose is a theoretical framework that points to key factors
to look at when conducting an analysis of one or a small nurober of cases. In
such a framework, actors, institutions, timing, and the very notion ofprocess play

12

13

14

The Basics

a central role in the analysis of countries in two geopolitical areas, i.e. Southern
Europe and Latin America.
The research led by Gunther et al. (1995), who arealso the chairmen of the
Committee on Southern Europe of the American Social Science Research
Council (SSRC), takes the same basic position with a definite nurober of
cases (Southern Europe only) and the proposal of a theoretical framework.
The main focus of the research they conducted was not to draft a nurober
of empirical theoretical propositions on the phenomenon in Italy, Spain,
Portugal, and Greece, but to elaborate a theoretical framework to scrutinize
the consolidation in those and supposedly other countries. In their view, the
historicallegacy, the differentiating elements of the previous non-democratic
regimes, the characteristics of democratic transitions, and the emergence of
partial regimes are the main domains that need to be analysed to ex:plain
consolidation.
With reference to democratization, Pridham (2000: esp. eh. 1) effectively
pursues a similar design by suggesting an appropriate framework for analysing mainly Southern and Eastern European changes as an overall phe:riomenon comprising historical determinants, modes of authoritarian breakdown,
formal regime transition, the role of elite actors, economic transformations,
the mutual influence of elite and civil society, the possible role of statehood
and national identity in the transition, and the impact of international
factors. All of these are aspects that should be considered together in the
'dynamics of transition' when analysing specific cases.
Apparently, Huntington (1991: 30) follows a different path by setting a
temporally and spatially defined explanatory goal ('explain why, how and
with what consequences a group of roughly contemporaneous transitions to
democracy occurred in the 1970s and the 1980s') for transitions to democracy
only. In his work, which can be paralleled to the quantitative analysis in terms
of the search for ex:planation if not for theory, he ex:plicitly mentions five
changes as the main causes of transitions in about thirty countries in those
decades: the legitimacy problems of previous authoritarian regimes, closely
connected to poor domestic performance; global economic growth during the
1960s; basic changes in the doctrine and activity of the Catholic Church;
the new policies of external actors (the EU, the USA, and the breakdown of
the USSR); and 'snowballing' or demonstration effects (Huntington 1991:
45-6). That is, within a multi-causal ex:planation, 11 a few cultural, economic,
and international aspects are considered the key factors and there is no theory
built on the results.
When a systematic explanation of Southern European and Latin American
cases is attempted (see Morlino 2003), the political traditions of the country
stand out as a key factor. More precisely, the key variables are: the

What Theory in Democratization Studies?

15

oraanization and control of civil society by a hegemonic party and the

co~sequent manipulated participation through which the regime was able


to destroy.the social structure and the previous political and social identifications; the consequent socialization and resocialization carried out by party
organizations and other ancillary organizations to create new loyalties and
identifications; and the suppression of the opposition. These variables were
relevant, because during transition they heavily conditioned the subsequent
activation of a democratic civil society together with its social and political
structures. In other words, an authoritarian regime that has been able to carry
out effective policies of socialization and suppression may leave a passive,
weak, fragmented, poorly organized civil society during the subsequent
transition.
As stressed above in recalling McFaul, within the transitions to democracy
that have occurred in the different parts of the world, spatial and time
differences were also characterized by additional aspects such as the change
of polity boundanes and, consequently, of territory and population, as happened in several Eastern European cases, but not in the Southern European
and Latin American transitions. Moreover, in the Southern European and
Latin American cases the salience of economic factors has been totally
ignored. These were highly relevant in Eastern Europe, while in Southern
Europe there was no problern of changing the economy from a collectivist to a
capitalist system with markel and private property. But the considerable
attention devoted to the relationships between economic and political aspects
in Eastern Europe has led some scholars to consider similar relationships in
Southern Europe, as it was considered a mistake to think that there are no
differences between an economy coexisting with an authoritarian regime and
an economy coexisting with a democracy. With some exceptions, (see especially Ethier 1990), most analyses of Southern European transitions simply
overlook those important aspects, and, to mention one feature, they largely
glossed over the reshaping of the relationships between more or less organized
interests and parties and between those interests and the bureaucracy with or
without a large public sector in the economy.
A rational choice approach has also been applied (e.g. Przeworski 1986;
Colomer 1995) to transition, especially to pacted transitions or transition by
agreement (see Colomer 2000), again with close attention to elites and their
choice and strategies. The building of democratic institutions is basically the
product of those strategies and choices. The analyses by Colomer (1995, 2000)
should be emphasized, not ohly for the theoretical approach he applie's, but
also because, starting from the analysis of a specific case, that of Spain, he
develops a theoretical proposal to apply to all cases of transition by agreement. He referred in particular to Brazil and Chile, but also tested his

16

The Basics

proposal on other cases such as the dissolution of the USSR and the transition
to democracy in Poland and other Eastem European countries. Although
limited to the phenomenon of transition only, and in this case to a specific
kind of transition, that by pact or agreement, the suggested theoretical
perspective is worthy of consideration.
It should also be added that Spain is a case that has attracted considerable
attention from a nurober of scholars who have developed other theoretical
proposals on the basis of just that case. Share (1987), Fishman (1990), and
Gunther (see especially Gunther et al. 2004) are just some ofthe authors who
have focused on Spain in particular. Moreover, some of the theoretical frarneworks or propositions formulated for Spain have also influenced the analysis
of Latin American and even Eastem European cases investigated by other
authors, including Colomer (2000). The recurring references to pacts, the
moderation of elites, the resurrection of civil society, the salience of memory
of the past, and even some of the regional propositions mentioned by Bunce
emerge from the closer attention paid to Spain. But this is really a countryspecific analysis that cannot be extended far beyond that case, as a cursory
overview of other, different situations in the sarne and other areas would
immediately suggest.
In addition to theoretical frarneworks, able to cover more than one area
and time or applicable to country-specific mechanisms, there has been a sort
of intermediate set of proposals involving the development of models or
pattems of transition for a definite, usually small, nurnber of cases. Over
the years Stepan (1986), Karl and Schmitter (1991), Higley and Gunther
(1992), Munck and Skalnik Leff (1997), and Berins Collier (1999) are some
of the main authors who have proposed such models. Some of the differences
between them can be explained simply in terms of the different cases considered. For example, Stepan and Berins Collier also include the dassie Western
European cases of the past in addition to Southem and Eastem European
ones; Karl and Schmitter and also Munck and Skalnik Leff encompass the
Latin American transitions as well as the Eastem European ones of the early
1990s. The similarities between these attempts lie in the fact that all the
authors quoted above mainly focus on two macro-variables: the actors of
transition, whether authoritarian incurnbent elites or those of the opposition,
and the strategies they pursued, either accommodating or conflictive.
Thus, Higley and Gunther (1992) singleout two main pattems of democratic consolidation. Emphasizing the key role of elites, their structural
integration, and consensus on a set of values, the two pattems are: (1) there
is consolidation from the beginning if the elites consciously choose accommodation and cooperation in the democratic installation (settlement); or (2)
there is consolidation when, following democratic installation, divided elites

What Theory in Democratization Studies?

17

gradually converge by accepting the electoral rules and fair competition and
by takingmore ideologically mod~rate ~ositions (convergen.ce). In this pr~
posal the salience of ~e ~ul~ural di~~ns10~ must be emphasiZ~d? althoug~ 1t
has to be considered m 1ts mtertwmmg With .the effect of polic1es and With
other structural aspects. By contrast, Munck and Skalnik Leff (1997) come up
with four models: 'revolution from above', if the actors of transition are the
authoritarian elites who pursued a conflictive strategy of confrontation;
'conservative reform', if those elites chose agreements and compromises;
'social revolution', if counter-elites were at the heart of transition and pursued
a conflictive strategy; and 'reform from below', if counter-elites at the heart of
transition adopted an accommodating strategy. The advantages and limits of
such models are fairly evident and connected. One of the main points is that
the most immediate understanding of a country is counterbalanced by a
strong sirnplification of many relevant aspects. In addition, the adoption of
mixed models is very common. Consequently, strong simplification is accompanied by a loss of theoretical efficacy that would have been to some extent
rescued with the 'pure' models. On the whole, despite a nurnber of attempts,
the 'impossibility' of a general or regional theory for dealing with the transition to democracy or to some other regime is confirmed.
It seems, then, that a general theory of regime change or democratization,
even one that is temporally bound, will not suffice if we really want to analyse
and explain the cases on which we are working. When focusing more specifically on the theoretical choices made by a large number of authors, a retreat
from theory or the fear of developing a theory seems the dominant mood.
This is not only a retreat from orthodox, predictive kinds of theories, reminiscent of the 1960s (e.g. Kaplan 1964), but also from explanatory, comparative theory, and the actual explanation comes with a reconstruction of every
case as a whole with its uniqueness. Within this choice, of course, there are
various more specific solutions and positions, from utter scepticism about the
possibility or even the desirability of theory, to a more self-conscious choice of
a theoretical framework by a few distinguished senior scholars in the field, so
as to reconstruct pattems that encompass one or very few cases, through to
proposals of country-specific models. Overall, this retreat from theory appears to stem from two different factors, which ultimately move in the sarne
direction.
The first is the result of a conscious reflection on the failure of general
functionalist theories, systems analysis, formal rational choice, and other
general theories, which were in 'fashion' in the 1950s, 1960s, and early
1970s, but, when submitted to empirical tests, displayed all their analytic
and explanatory flaws and were practically abandoned or subjected to a major
overhaul, with much better results, as happened for rational choice theory. 12

19

The Basics

What Theory in Democratization Studies?

This has led to an evident search for different, maybe less ambitious, but more
empirically solid, theoretical choices and the consequent results. The consciousness of this failme and the new direction has been thoroughly charted
by several scholars, especially by Ostrom (1982: 13, 26) when she stresses the
need for 'the development of theory' in political science and at the same the
fact that what 'we do achieve will be lirnited in scope to specific types of
theoretically defined situations rather than sweeping theories of society as a
whole'.
The second factor derives from an awareness of the complexities and major
differences between various cases around the world. Such differences ex:tend
to the temporal plane as well, even in the arc of a lirnited forty-year period
(1970-2010) during which several profound social and economic changes
have taken place internationally. 13 Such awareness is additionally strengtherred by the evident fact that in most comparative political research conducted
in recent decades, democratization has been the dominant leitmotiv, following in this respect the spectacular developments of reality: when the world's
five main geographic areas are considered, what irnmediately stands out is
that hundreds of articles and books have been written on the topic in English
alone, not to mention the ones in Spanish and various other languages.
Therefore, reflection on past failmes as well as an awareness of empirical
complexities and !arge differences among the cases, emphasized by a very
extensive literature, suggest great caution in articulating theoretical ambitions
and choices. Furthermore, the irnpossibility of theory seems to lie at the core
of the very phenomena to be ex:plored, and as such is effectively captmed by
March and Olsen (1989: 65-6) when they write: 'institutional change rarely
satisfies the prior intentions of those who initiate it ... Change cannot be
controlled precisely ... there are frequently multiple, not necessarily consistent, intentions ... intentions are often ambiguous ... initial intent can be
lost'. If the 'carnation revolution' triggered by the golpe of Portuguese
captains and a nurober of other examples are considered, the words of March
and Olsen become very telling, and additionally strengthen the point just
made above.

McFaul (2002: 244), last? Are we actually in search of a sort of 'philosopher's


stone', which was reputed to turn everything into gold and was so important
to medieval chemistry? Reflection on the wide comparative politics literatme
complemented by om research ex:perience seems to provide (fairly) precise
indications. To begin with, the search for a general theory of democratization
can indeed effectively be seen as the search for the 'philosopher's stone'. This is
the case because within the broad phenomenon of democratization there are
several more definite phenomena to be singled out. Minimally, they include:

18

1.3 WHAT ARE THE POSSIELE THEORETICAL


DEVELOPMENTS?
If the analysis above is correct, are no theoretical advances possible? How long
will the 'long search for a general theory of democratization', mentioned by

tra 115ition to democracy and democratic installation, democratic consolidation


and crisis, and democratic qualities' deepening or worsening. 14 That is, there are

at least three more precise, complex phenomena (transition to and installation of a democracy, consolidation, and deepening), and their contrary
(transition from democracy to authoritarianism or other regime, crisis, and
worsening), each one requiring its own empirical analysis with different
possible theoretical results. Thus, transition to democracy requires a different
analysis than consolidation, as in this second macro-phenomenon the range
of variation is unavoidably smaller because of the already existing institutional constraints; research into qualities' deepening or worsening, where the
implementation of democratic values-yet another aspect-is on the spot
entails a different analysis vis-a-vis transition and consolidation. This enables
us to better understand why tt.e authors working on democratic transitions
were more sceptical about thl possibility for theory development than those
studying consolidation, even when the same areas and the same or similar
spans of time are considered. The key consequence of these considerations is
that the different and more specific phenomena requiring analysis may have
different theoretical goals. Such theoretical pluralism emerges simultaneously
from the literatme and from direct research ex:perience. 15 Although the
problern of how to achieve theoretical advances may still be considered
unsolved, at least it becomes more empirically accessible.
The problern was addressed in a different way by rational choice scholars,
who considered theoretical achievements as a priority and solved it by
focusing on 'ex:planatory mechanisms'. Elster (1989: esp. 9-10), in particular,
ex:plicitly states that the key theoretical goal should be singling out ex:planatory mechanisms of 'human action and interaction' as recurring 'ways in
which things happen'. In addition to rational choice analyses of transitions
only (see esp. Colomer 2000, but also Przeworski 1986) and other analyses
focusing on Spain (see Cololl},er 1995), this is also a path undertaken by other
comparativists working in areas other than democratization, such as Pearson
(2004), who ex:plicitly shares Elster's point, or Tsebelis, with his analyses of
nested games (1990) and veto players (2002). The appropriateness of such a
proposal is that it may allow theoretical advances while at the same time not

20

The Basics

What Theory in Democratization Studies?

21
being at so high a level of generality that our Statements become platitudes or
Moreover, such a starting point helps to clarify how the oft-proposed
pompous affirmations of the obvious, a trap which-as is well known-a
distinction between 'structure' driven and 'process' driven explanations (e.g.
number of rational choice contributions were unable to avoid.
Kitschelt i992), which are usually focused on transition to democracy only,
If the 'solution' suggested by rational choice is accepted with its stress on
can be overcome: different interactions among actors and structures, to be
theoretical priorities, looking for causal or explanatory 'mechanisms' still
considered as salient contextual variables, are recurring elements of analysis
leaves open some important issues. First, despite the broader formulation
within transition or consolidation processes. 16 There is also no doubt that not
by Elster, the core meaning of 'mechanism' always brings to mind some
only is there a random component in the actual unfoldirig of those macrocombination of cams, gears, belts, and chains or at least a set of links or
processes, but they can be open-ended, often convoluted, and never teleologconnections designed to achieve a certain outcome. That is, a sort of deterical, as Whitehead (2002: 238ff.) rightly stresses. To better understand this
minism comes with the term and this is unacceptable in o_ur topic for
point it suffices to recall that an individual or collective action or set of
everything empirical research has shown in these years, if not for another
actions-for example, an implemented political strategy-can be teleologimethodological reason, namely that attaching some sort of determinism to
cally driven, but a process by itself cannot be such because it unfolds through
this term mutes a basic feature of democratization phenomena: they are
several, often unexpected or unwanted interactions, even among different
'open-ended' changes. Second, in all phenomena of democratization time,
strategies, within a given or changing context with again sometimes unextiming, sequences, and identification of time-bound windows of opportunity are
pected, unwanted results. 17
key aspects to analyse (see esp. Linz 1998; Schedler and Santiso 1998; .SchmitOn the whole, these considerations suggest that advances in theory are
ter and Santiso 1998) and, although possibly present within the notion of
indeed necessary. But to achieve such results, first, the whole, too-broad topic
mechanism, time does not lie at the core of this notion. Despite what Pearson
of democratization has to be broken down into more palatable, albeit still
affirms about mechanisms that are or should be 'temporally oriented' (2004:
thorny, phenomena or processes. Those processes include at least: transition
7, but also 1-16 and 54-78), the same author adopts the term 'process' when
towards democracy, consolidation or crisis, and democratic qualities' deepthe time to be considered is a long one (Pearson 2004: 79-102).
ening or worsening. Second, in
connection with the reality that is analysed
l
Third, however, when conducting empirical field research it is not always
and the data we are actually able to detect and collect we have to be ready to
possible and is often difficult to gather consistent (fairly) complete data
accept different theoretical achievements. Thus, within the macro-processes
that are time bound. Thus, all considered, singling out empirical mechanisms
mentioned above, we can come out with key, salient, and recurring more
is a first, theoretical necessary step. But in addition we should embed the
circumscribed sub-processes, with simpler theoretical frameworks, with
mechanism/s we are able to find into a meaningful 'process', where time,
recurrent patterns or other theoretical results when the former are not
timing, and sequencing, when singled out, are essential components.
achieved just because that comes out as an impossible task. The consequent
To be more precise, at the core of our theoretical research there is the
empirical question is: what sort of more specific theoretical results are possisingling out of a 'process' as a 'set of recurring interactions among individual
ble when analysing transitions to democracy, consolidations and crisis, and
and collective actors within changing structures, which is spread out over
democratic qualities' deepening or worsening?
time, may or may not unfold in an expected result, is on occasion unilinear,
In order to reply to this question and to discuss those theoretical results, a
but is always open ended'. Inside this definition of process there is room for
step-by-step strategy seems_necessary. Accordingly,
mechanisms minimally defined as 'recurrent links or connections'. These
- first, an empirical definition of democracy that is suitable for conducting
definitions help to overcome a possible objection by Vanhanen (1997: 26)
'
empirical research into the different democratization macro-processes,
and other scholars, who stress how 'process-oriented analysis resorting to
including
the pertinent normative aspects, has to be proposed;
various proximate factors cannot lead to any general theoretical explanations,
second,
the
issue of how to define and empirically grasp ambiguous,
although they may produce useful descriptions of democratization': as a ,
intermediate
Situations has to be addressed;
r
general theoretical explanation is actually impossible, as shown by empirical
third,
these
two
steps
should
pave
the
way
for
delineating
more
precise
research in these years, singling out key processes and related mechanisms,
indications to detect when there is a change of regime or not, with a full
conceived as above, is the best theoretical achievement we can actually obtain.

The Basics

What Theory in Democratization Studies?

awareness of all the lirnitations and constraints this involves (see also
Whitehead 2002: eh. 1);
- fourth, when necessary, empirical definitions of the macro-processes to
analyse should be provided (transition towards democracy and installation,
consolidation and crisis, qualities' deepening and worsening);
- fifth, where feasible and with all necessary distinctions between the different macro-processes, the more specific theoretical results should fie singled
out with possible limits and constraints in terms of time and area 'travel
capabilities' as weil as with regards to mutual exchange or influence
between factors that are mainly domestic and others that are mainly of
international origin;
- sixth, and this is especially salient for democratic qualities' deepening or
worsening, to single out the different aspects of and connections between
the dimensions of deepening.

freedom, justice, a better life, and a fairer society. If democracies do not work
better to contain crime and corruption, generate economic growth, relieve
econornic inequality, and secure justice and freedoms, sooner or later, people
willlose faith and embrace (or tolerate) other-non-democratic-alternatives.' From our perspective this means that it is especially important to have
the necessary analytic tools to check whether, how, and to what extent the
people's needs have been achieved, or not. And the analytic tool mentioned
above could be useful for that purpose.
With the goals that have just been set up, in the next chapter it will be
necessary to take a stand on, if not to solve, the contested issue of the empirical
definitions of democracy from the perspective of democratization. In the same
chapter the need to cope with the empirical 'translation' of normative conceptions of democracy is spelled out, although it will be necessary to come
back to this in the third part ofthe book (esp. in Chapter 7).

22

Moreover, the analysis of the qualities of democracy should at least cope with
two additional issues. On the one hand, it should be able to detect and
empirically relate citizens' or people's demands or needs and politicians'
decisions and implementations with actual impacts. This has been one of
the key flaws of old general theories, such as systernic analysis or functionalism, which rightly addressed this issue, but failed to empirically detect those
relationships in adequate ways. On the other hand, research on that topic can
turn into a salient tool for subsequent analysis of the qualities of democracy
and the aspects capable of deepening them. If adequate, the development of
such a tool would be a more important result in terms of its possible future
applications than the substantive empirical results presented and discussed in
the following chapters. In fact, the implementation of such a tool could enable
us to better understand the directions in which contemporary democracies
are heading.
As known, in the three Southem European countries the transitionwas the
result of the 'natural' exhaustion of long-term established authoritarian
regimes (Spain and Portugal) or of an unconsolidated military regime
(Greece) in the face of new problems and the transformation of societies in
that part of Europe (see Morlino 1998). In Latin America the end of military
regimes came about due to economic failure or even to econornic success, but
with unacceptable, unbearable costs-if protracted-in terms of suppression.
In Eastem Europe the end of the communist regimes happenecl because of
econornic bankruptcy and the end of hegemony in the region of the USSR.
The indirect consequence of this is that unlike authoritarian solutions, as
Diamond (2008: 294) eloquently affirms, 'democracies .... must demoostrate
that they can solve governance problems and meet citizens' expectations for

23

Notes
1. See below to see what these are more precisely.
2. Such a distribution of economic, intellectual, and organizational power resources

is measured by urban population, non-agricultural population, number of university students, literacy, arb of family farms, and decentralization of nonagricultural economic resources (see Vanhanen 1997: 42-60). Most of the data
cover the early 1990s, but for some variables an earlier period, 1850-1980, is
considered.
3. Competition and participation respectively measured by the smaller parties'
share of the votes cast in parliamentary and/or presidential elections, calculated
by subtracting the percentage of votes won by the largest party from 100; and by
the percentage of total population who voted in the related election (see also
Vanhanen 1990: 17-24).
4. They especially include economic growth aspects, such as consumption, investment, labour force, distribution of income, and demographic issues such as birth
and death rates, fertility, and life expectancy. The data cover the 1950-90 period
and the whole 141 countries.
5. See a similar opinion expressed by Houle (2009) and the consequences for other
aspects of their analysis.
6. The empirical source is a database built on the World Value Surveys and European
Values Surveys, that is, a number of different surveys conducted in several
COuntries between 1980 and 2001, but some of them arealso earlier (see Inglehart
and Welzel 2005).
7. Although there is some reference to crisis in Przeworki et al. (2000).

24

The Basics

8. The first four chapters of the book by Gill (2000: 1-123) are also a good, balanced

review of the literature, especially on transition to democracy. For more on this,


see Chapter 3.
9. When we also consider a very well-written book like the one by Larry Dimond
(2008) or the exhaustive textbook edited by Haerpfer et al. (2009) or other good
textbooks (e.g. Grugel 2002; Ciprut 2008; S~rensen 2008), we realize how rich the
field has become in terms of research carried out and how high the level of interest
is for a lot of people, including university students.
10. In Chapter 2 I will come back to the sensitive, careful definition of democracy
discussed by Whitehead (2002: eh. 1).
11. This is characterized by the fact that the combination of causes varies from
country to country (Huntington 1991: 38).
12. For an additional analysis of this matter, see Morlino (2000).
13. They are so well known that there is no reason to discuss here phenomena such as
the oil crisis with all its consequences, the end of the Cold War, the fall of the
Berlin Wall, the change of capitalist economy and different markets, and the
reshaping of the middle classes.
14. The literal opposite of 'deepening' is 'shallowness', or a similar word. But when
transforming this expression into a meaningful empirical concept it becomes
unacceptably slippery and murky. For this reason I prefer 'worsening' instead. For
more on this topic, see Chapter 8.
15. This immediately suggests how other theoretical questions are also wrongly
addressed. See, for example, the question of the role of actors or structure. The
empirical replies are different if we analyse the transition to democracy or the
consolidation. See Chapter 4 in particular for a discussion of this.
16. Although actors have often been a dominant focus in the analysis and reality of
transitions, Doorenspleet (2004) shows the salience of structural context in
several transitions. But for more on this, see Chapter 3.
17. On this issue, see Chapter 6, as O'Donnell (1996) sees this flaw in the notion of
democratic consolidation itself.

2
Definitional Conundrums
Definitions are necessary compasses for empirical research. As Collier and
Adcock (1999: 562) remind us, 'concepts, definitions, and operationalization
may evolve with changes in the goals and context of research', and goals and
context of research may change because key events and related processes have
been taking place. In addition, there are terms, such as 'democracy', which
have at the same time an empirical reference and a normative, ideal connotation. Consequently, for decades 'democracy' has been an essentially contested
concept. 1 Thus, we have a widespread phenomenon of democratization with
about ninety political regirnes labelled in 2008-9 as free and democratic, and
an additional sixty cases of partially free regimes (see Freedom House 2008),
and thus the need to revise the definition of democracy to adapt it to the
renewed research goals. As the main goal is the analysis of a few macroprocesses of change, such as bjp.nsition towards democracy, consolidation, or
crisis, and democratic qualiti~s' deepening or worsening, the definition/s of
democracy we need should help to lay the foundations for that analysis.
Hence; first, it is necessary to spell out the core definition of democracy.
This is especially important given that this kind of regime has become 'the
only game in town' and is no Ionger challenged as such. The procedural
definitions so irnportant in a different historical period as the most empirically solid point of reference within the liberal tradition have to be complemented by other definitions referring to substantive aspects relevant to
empirical research. Second, a minimalist definition is essential for understanding when in a transitional process a regime turns into a democracy, or is close
to doing so. Such a definition should also be able to capture the complexities
of a transitional period when a regime may already be democratic in some
respects but continues to remain authoritarian in others. Third, if there are so
many democracies, an empirical analysis of the actual irnplementation of the
main democratic values or tenets, or better an analysis of the quality/ qualities
of democracy, seems obvious.,2 This, however, implies some standard or ra sort
of maximum definition of democracy as a frame of reference in the development of quality. These three sets of definitions stillleave open the definition of
all striking cases of uncertainty and ambiguity; those labelled by Freedom

26

The Basics

House as 'partially free' make up about one-third of all e:xisting independent


regimes and cover all areas of the world. This important new phenomenon
will be dealt with in the following chapter.

2.1 CORE DEFINITIONS

The first conundrum is characterized by the long and heated debate in past
decades about democracy as 'form' and as 'substance'. It started with the
critique of nineteenth-century liberal doctrine by socialist thinkers and politicians, and acquired fresh momentum during and after World War Two,
when 'democracies' were considered by people and scholars to be the Western
political regimes, but the same label was also applied to the so-called real
socialisms or people's democracies of the USSR and the other Bastern
European countries. The prevailing conclusion ofthat debate in democratic
theorywas to regard the definition of democracy as form or, better, procedure,
as preferable to democracy as substance (see below). The notion of procedural
democracy was the most important attempt to give a solid theoretical ground
to the definition. Such a conclusion was based on the so-called non-reversible
relationships between freedom, understood as civil and political rights, and
equality. In the light of the experiences of Western Europe vis-a-vis Bastern
Europe the key point to emerge was that no kind of equality can be achieved if
there is no actual guarantee of civil and political rights as a prerequisite (see
Sartori 1987). The consequence of this has been not only a growing shift
towards substantive aspects in research, which in our field has been mirrored
by enormous developments in policy studies, including welfare rights, but also
to political equality as suggested by Dahl (2006) and to political justice as
developed by astring of authors, from Rawls (1974) toSen (2009), and to the
ways of complementing equality and freedom by giving to democracy a
substantive, important content, as in Ringen (2007). 3
The procedural definition, however, has remained salient and deserves a
closer look. It was initially proposed by Schumpeter (1942: 269, 1964: 257), to
which several other authors began referring: 'The democratic method is that
institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the
people's vote.' A few years earlier and again basically in the same period,
Kelsen (see Kelsen 1981: 190-1, and 1988) 4 had stated: 'as method or procedure, democracy is a form. In fact, the procedure through which a social order
is devised and implemented is considered formal, to distinguish it from the

Definitional Gonundrums

27

content of the order, which is a material or substantive element'. He then goes


00 to say: 'If democracy is above all eise a form, of State or governance, it
must be remernbered that the antagonism between form and substance or
between form and content is only relative, and that the same thing may appear
to be form from one point of view and content or substance from another
[ ... ] There is therefore no better way of impeding the movement towards
democracy [ ... ] than discrediting the definition of democracy as procedure,
using the argurnent that it is formalistic.' What is involved then are 'forms'
that permit and guarantee the possibility that certain 'substances' or decisions
will be taken in compliance with the procedures envisaged by those very same
'forms'.
Laying emphasis on the 'procedural' aspect of a democratic regime leads on
to a related feature. It is incorrect to suppose that any decision whatsoever,
any decision-making 'content: can be taken on board as a result of these
formalized rules. Above all, such procedures exclude decisions 'that might in
some way contfibute to overcome one or more of the rules of the game'
(Bobbio 1983: 316). Nor is it right to claim that in a democratic regime there
is a real institutionalization of 'uncertainty' with regard to the substance of
the decisions that can be made. When excessive stress is placed on the
procedural dimension or one talks in terms of absolute uncertainty-by
which it is understood that within defined and certain democratic procedures
any decision, even, for examPie, that of abolishing the market and private
property, may be taken-there is a change in the level of analysis, a shift
towards the normative dimension and away from the empirical one. On
the empirical, historical plane, in fact, the mass liberal democracy was based
on the maintenance of certain socio-econornic conditions, principally associated with private property. These conditions have never been denied or
modified, and their modificability-abstractly in certain situations, but not
impossible-would need to be demonstrated in the future, if there was ever
the opportunity.
Therefore, it can justifiably be argued that: (a) the democratic regime is one
that permits the most indeterminancy with regard to the concrete content of
the decisions that can be taken by elected or electorally accountable bodies:
this uncertainty is always relative and cannot exceed certain boundaries
defined by the safeguarding of private property; (b) these boundaries are,
furthermore, fixed by the fact that the democratic system is underpinned by a
comprornise agreement which recognizes the collectively accepted rules for
the peaceful resolution of conflicts between social, politically represented, and
significant parties; (c) the lirnits are exceeded not only when an attempt is
made to take decisions that contravene those rules, as Bobbio suggests, but
also when decisions are taken that irnpinge on interests perceived to be vital

28

29

The Basics

Definitional Gonundrums

by social actors involved in the political compromise agreement. In an


industrialized liberal democracy, for instance, such actors would range from
business associations to unionized workers' groups.
Such a procedural definitionwas still very salient in the 1970s and later, as
shown by Bobbio and, very effectively, by Dahl (1970), who considers as
democracies all regimes characterized by a genuine guarantee of broad,
inclusive political participation on the part of the adult male and female
population, and by the possibility of dissent and opposition. Dahl developed
his notion by identifying five criteria as key elements of a democracy: effective
participation, voting equality, enlightened understanding, i.e. citizens have
adequate and equal opportunities to learn about policy alternatives, control
of the agenda, i.e. citizens have the opportunity to decide which matters are
placed on the public agenda, and inclusion of adult residents who enjoy
citizenship rights (Dahl1989: esp. 108-14).
Dahl's definition is simpler and more Straightforward than Sartori's, to
which it may be compared for a better understanding of how the procedural
definition developed. According to Sartori (1969: 105), democnicy is 'an
ethical-political system in which the influence of the majority is entrusted
to the power of competing minorities, which secure it' through the electoral
mechanism. Or, referring to a subsequent and more elaborate formulation,
democracy is 'the mechanism that (a) generates an open polyarchy whose
competition in the electoral market, (b) attributes power to the people and
(c) speci:fically enforces the responsiveness of the leaders to the led' (Sartori
1987: 156).5 This more complex definition does not just include participation
and dissent, already envisaged by Dahl, but also lays emphasis on liberal and
democratic values such as the competition and pluralism of the polyarchic
system itself, 6 reference to electoral mechanisms, and the underlining of the
relationship between elected and electors, which envisages the 'responsiveness' of the former as a collateral effect of competition.
These two definitions, while still being largely procedural, contain a substantive difference, behind which there lie two different research perspectives.
Dahl is interested in producing an entirely empirically definition, an indispensable step for anyone wanting to conduct empirical research in this area,
as he does. Sartori acknowledges, and indeed values, the connection between
empirical and normative elements, and regards it as inevitable that such a link
will be maintained in a political theoretical perspective. Whilst Sartori's more
complex definition is important and quite legitimate when the focus is
democratic ideals, and consequently, in our perspective, when dealing with
the qualities of democracy (see Part III), Dahl's de:finition has the merit of
being a more appropriate empirical description of democratic regimes, and is
to be preferred when pursuing empirical research on transition and

consolidation. In fact, while both participation and dissent are essential


features of mass liberal democracies, competition and responsiveness are
key characteristics of a normative de:finition. In other words, Sartori may be
right in arguing indirectly that some degree of competition and responsiveness, however minimal, is indispensable for a real democracy. But although
these two elements are crucial for evaluating the gap between a real regime
and an ideal democracy, they are of marginal importance when it comes to
judging whether a country is a democracy or still an authoritarian or hybrid
regime (see the next chapter). Expressed differently, if competition and
responsiveness are almost non-existent, but rights and freedoms are concretely guaranteed, thereby enabling participation and the real possibility of
dissent, would it not be fair to say that we are in the presence of a democratic
regime? Considering nations usually regarded as democratic, such as Italy or
Sweden, . the former characterized by limited responsiveness (however this
difficult notion is measuredf and the latter by decades of political dominance
on the part of the Social Democrats, it is difficult to argue that such characteristics are constitutive, essential components of a real democratic regime-that
is, components such that the presence or lack of one or both would imply a
change of definition, from democratic to non-democratic regime.
An additional step towards considering elements other than procedural
aspects but still important in a democracy was made in a proposal by
Schmitter and Karl, when They state: 'political democracy is a system of
govemance in which rulers are held accountable for their actions in the public
realm by citizens, acting indirectly through the competition and cooperation
of their elected representatives' (Schmitter and Karl 1993: 76). Their definition includes not only the notion of competition but also that of cooperation,
thus emphasizing the importance of the collective adhesion to values, rules,
and institutions within which actors compete but also collaborate. Without
denying the relevance of this aspect, it should be stressed that once again it
appears to be of central importance for the better functioning of democracy,
and therefore also for an ideal democracy, but is marginal from a strictly
empirical point of view. However, the concept of cooperation should not be
ignored, because it may also lead to an underlining of the initial, 'genetic'
foundations of a democracy.
To make this preliminary empirical definition more concrete, it is necessary to
decide which rules and institutions distinguish a democratic regime. Expanding
the suggestions by Dahl (1989: 221), at least the following should be included:
the set of formal rules and procedures regarding universal suffrage; free, fair,
competitive, and recurent elections; a decision-making and goveming body
elected with the above-mentioned norms, usually corresponding to a parliamentary assembly; a prime minister and a govemment that are answerable to

30

The Basics

parliament or are the result of direct election by the electorate; a set of intermediary structures represented by political parties and interest groups; apart from
all the bureaucratic structures (public administration, magistracy, armed forces,
police, etc.) whlch continually interact with the directly elected democratic
structures. These institutions and norms presuppose, albeit to different degrees,
a genuine guarantee of political rights and liberty, such as freedom of e:xpression,
union, and association and alternative sources of information and therefore also
the e:xistence of other norms and of a bureaucratic apparatus that guarantees
such rights. According to Schmitter and Karl (1993: 45-6), it is also important
that these institutions (and, one might add, these rights) arenot subject to or
conditioned by 'non-elected parties' or exponents of other external regimes. In
the first case, one example might be the desire of the armed forces to influence
democratic decision-making processes or the overall functioning of a democracy. In the second, the conditioning might come from an external power that
undermines the independence and sovereignty of the democracy in question.
The former scenario would lie outside the bounds of the democratic genus in a
non-democratic or ambiguously democratic institutional arrangement. In the
second scenario, there may be democracy within the country, but not independence and sovereignty, namely sovereignty may be consciously surrendered to
achleve other important goals, as is happening in the case of the EU. The two
forms of conditioning may therefore have very different outcomes, and the
second one does not necessarily move in an anti-democratic direction.
The same phenomenon of democratization stresses the importance of
another additional perspective in the discussion about definitions. In fact, it
is relevant in the subsequent analysis of macro-processes of change to point
out a genetic definition of democracy as that set of norms and procedures that
stem from a compromise agreement for the peaceful resolution of conflicts
between politically significant social actors and other institutional actors
present in the political arena (see Przeworski and Wallertein 1982; Przeworski
1991: 26-34; see also Weingast 1997: 245-63). Moreover, this definition
differs from the ones mentioned earlier not only because it lays more stress
on the genetic aspect-how a democratic regime comes into being and
forms-but because it indirectly makes reference to certain basic socioeconomic conditions.
The genetic definition also helps us to gain a better grasp of a fundamental,
but often neglected or underestimated, feature of any democratic regime: a
democracy is a regime concretely characterized by rules and institutions that
moderate or offset different aspects. As the procedural definition makes clear
(see earlier), democracy requires the existence of some basic consensus on the
rules and at the sametime must accept dissent and conflict about the content.
It must accept the uncertainty of decisional results, but requires certainty

Definitional Gonundrums

31

about the rules so. that the uncertainty is relative and limited. It cannot,
for example, abolish the right to private property. It must apply the principle
of majority rule, the main decision-making rule to ensure the e:ffective
functioning of its decisional organs, but must protect the rights of minorities.
In some cases, therefore, it needs to obtain broader majorities or even
unanimity. There must be the broadest possible representation of interests
and identities in the appropriate government bodies, such as parliament
and regional or local assemblies, but at the same time a democracy relies on
some degree of decisional efficacy and functionality, which are much harder
if not impossible to obtain when seeking to achleve a representative presence
of a11 the components of fragmented and complex societies. Finally,
and parado:xically, the stronger the consensus about democracy, the more
conflict it can sustain; the smaller and more integrated the rninorities,
the more government institutions can resort to the majority principle;
the Iess complex the political structures, the greater the decision-making
efficacy.
r
This discussion helps to establish the bases for developing the definitions
that are more appropriate for our research. In fact, we need a narrow
empirical definition, indicated by several authors as 'minimalist', in order to
better analyse cases of transition as weil as of consolidation and crisis, but we
also need a 'maximalist' or rather a normative definition, which is necessary
in the analysis of the qualiti!s of democracy, that is in the processes of
deepening and worsening of qualities.

2.2 MINIMALIST EMPIRICAL DEFINITION

After the procedural and genetic definitions, it is now possible to retum to the
first of the two issues raised by the first definition. In order to conduct an
empirical analysis of the establishment of and transitions within democracies,
it is important to arrive at a minimalistdefinition specifying a limited nurober
of features that are more immediately controllable and essential at an empiricallevel, thereby permitring the establishment of a threshold beneath which a
regime cannot be considered democratic.
The three reasons why such a minimalist definition is empirically helpful
can be more explicitly stated:
r

1. It is essential for understanding when in a transitional process a regime

turns into a minimalist democracy, or is close to doing so.

The Basics

Definitional Gonundrums

2. It helps to capture the complexities of a transitional period when a regime


may already be democratic in some respects, but continues to remain
authoritarian in others.
3. If properly expressed, it helps to trace more immediately the existence of a
democracy in a country.

are particularly onerous. It is not easy to have 'recurring, free, competitive,


and fair' elections; indeed in some democracies that have been consolidated
for decades there are charges of corruption even today. Moreover, as Diamond
(2002: 28) recalls, 'often particularly difficult are judgments about whether
elections have been free and fair, both in the ability of opposition parties
and candidates to campaign and in the casting and counting of the votes.
In other cases, the element of "more than one source of information'' is difficult to meet if we only make reference to TV broadcasts. Or in yet other
countries a decision-making process not constrained by an army, which ironically
can be formed by democratic officers-see the Turkish case-is difficult to
.achieve:
This same discussion shows how important it is to be conscious of the
problern addressed by Collier and Adcock (1999) with regard to the two
possible paths to take when dealing with research into democracy: dichotomy
and gradation. Although they a:ffirm (1999: 561-2) that 'research that focuses
on democratization as a well-bounded event and on classical subtypes of
democracy favours dichotomies', actual research in the field suggested how a
graded approach can be more appropriate in the empirical analysis of transitions to democracy. The key point seems to be that in this kind of research
measurement is not always possible: analysis necessarily has to be qualitative.
Consequently, falling back upon non-dichotomaus classifications and typologies as substitutes for quantitative measures is the only possible and feasible
path. However, this is a non-dichotomaus path and sometimes it is essential
to trace the processes of transition in its various dimensions, such as the
electoral one, the btiilding of governmental institutions (decisional and
representative bodies, judiciary, bureaucracy, army, and police) with or without a constitutional sub-process, the establishment of a party system and the
development of interests.
A graded approach to democracy is also useful in at least two additional
domains of research. The first has again been pointed out by Collier in an
article written with Levitsky (1997), where they show that adjectives may
serve to cancel part of the meaning of democracy. Therefore, we have 'diminished subtypes': 'The subtype thus expresses the idea of a gradation away from
democracy. The use of dirninished subtypes presents an interesting alternative
to employing an ordinal scale' (Collier and Adcock 1999: 560). A second
important domain of research concerns the analysis of the quality/ qualities of
democracy (see Part III). In this, whenever possible, the use of gradation is
essential to understand the ~ extent to which the quality under sdutiny
is present in a democracy. Here again the key problern is the actual possibility
of adopting measurement or, if this not possible, classifications, i.e. 'nominal
scales'.

32

The best minimalist definition is still the one inspired by Dahl several years
ago (1971: esp. eh. 1): a regime should be considered democratic if it has at
least the following: (a) universal male and female suffrage; (b) free, competitive, periodic, and fair elections; (c) more than one political party; (d)
different and alternative sources of information. Such a minimalist empirical
definition has been considered as a procedural one (see e.g. Whitehead 2002:
10).8 However, it must be noted that ultimately it considers genuine respect of
at least civil and political rights to be essential, assuming that these rights exist
if there is effective universal suffrage, the quintessential expression of political
rights, that is, if the right to vote extends to the whole adult demos; if, as a
consequence, there are free, fair, and regular elections, an expression of the
effective existence of freedom of speech and thought; if there is more than one
genuinely competing political party, a manifestation of the existence of a real
and practised right of association; and if there are different sources of media
information with different proprietors, proof of the existence of the abovementioned freedoms. 9 In other words, in this definition strictly procedural
aspects such as competition and participation are actually complemented by
an effective guarantee of freedoms where the substantive elements are also
present (see also Part III on this).
One important aspect of such a definition is that if just one of these features
is absent or ceases to exist, the regime concerned would no Ionger be a
democracy but some other political-institutional arrangement, possibly an
intermediate one characterized by differing degrees of uncertainty and ambiguity. Finally, it is again useful to stress that the minimalist definition must
focus on the characteristic institutions of democracy-elections, competing
political parties (at least potentially), media pluralism-thereby tying in with
the definitions given above, such as those of Dahl and Schumpeter, and
shifting the level of abstraction of those two definitions on to the more
immediately empirical plane of the institutions that are indispensable for a
democratic regime.
An important addition was made to this definition by Schmitter and Karl
(1993: 45-6; also see above), who stress that democratic institutions, existing
rights, and also the decision-making process should not be constrained by either
non-elected elites or external powers. When considered jointly, all six requested
characteristics are clearly demanding, and the four adjectives attached to elections

33

34

The Basics

2.3 MAIN NORMATIVE DEFINITIONS


The minimalist definition logically would imply that there is also a maximum
definition. Bearing in mind that democracy is at one and the same time a
descriptive and a prescriptive term, a maximum definition must necessarily
start with ideals or principles, rather than with concrete institutions, as the
minimalist definition does. If well formulated, a definition of this kind would
be particularly useful for the present analysis, which regards the deepening of
democratic qualities (see Chapter 8) as a further phase in the democratization
process. Lastly, a definition rendered suitably applicable in empirical terms
could help in gauging the distance separating real democracies from the
maximum one, and also the degree of democraticity of regimes that have
crossed the minimum threshold outlined above.
However, a maximum definition does not exist as such. In fact, it is neither
possible nor appropriate to establish a point or points of arrival for principles
and ideals that are constantly evolving. In a more limited sense, also with a
view to pursuing the objectives mentioned above, it might be possible to
come up with one or more definitions that indicate possible directions for the
development of contemporary democracies, bearing in mind the principles
or ideals that inform them in the relatively more advanced realization of
the 'power of the people'. To quote Sartori (1987: 71), the problern of the
maximization of real democracies is rather that of 'optimization', once
the ideals and the directions of development have been established and efforts
are made to achieve them gradually.
For the purposes of singling out a definition of what might better be called
an ideal or normative democracy, there seems little point in attempting to
classify and measure real, existing democracies, as various authors have done
(see e.g. Freedom House, various years; Bollen 1990; Gurret al. 1990; Vanhanen 1990). This approach yields a whole series of realized or 'perfect' democracies, normally corresponding to the countries ofWestern European and the
Anglo-Saxon world, which obtain the maximum score, but fail to reveal the
problems of lirnited and scarce democraticity or the areas of possible growth
in democratic quality (see Part III) precisely in those and other countries.
Alternatively, the point of departure may simply be the main normative
definitions of democracy developed in previous decades. Those definitions
include at least the following: (1) liberal, representative democracy; (2)
responsive democracy; (3) participatory democracy; (4) deliberative democracy; (5) associative democracy; (6) egalitarian or social democracy; (7) good
governance; (8) good democracy. 10 They may partially overlap or be a

Definitional Conundrums

35

development of one another, as in the case of participatory and deliberative


democracy. Thete are also other additional normative notions that mix the
previous ones. In fact, there is an extensive literature for all of these notions
that cannot be summed up here as it covers most of contemporary political
philosophy. What can be done is to briefly discuss the main normative
notions in our perspective, which is to assess how those ~otions can become
an object of empirical research, that is, how they can be empirically
translated. 11
In the most dassie normative notion of liberal democracy, as developed by
Mill (1861) and, more recently, Schumpeter (1942), Dahl (1956, 1970),
Sartori (1957, 1987), and several other authors (Held 2006: including Chapter
3), the key features are the procedural ones. Accountability and competition
are at the core ofthat conception. But effective freedoms (see also Berlin
1953), namely a content value, complement them. The attainment of those
values helps to establish the autonomy of an individual, which according to
other authors (e.g. Held 1989: esp. eh. 9) is the key elementinan idealliberal
democracy. This is the normative conception that is easiest to translate
empirically, like the already cited procedural dimensions-for example, following Dahl (1971) participation and competition are the key aspects. But, as
mentioned above, electoral accountability and institutional accountability, 12
which are characterized by t!te division of powers that should check one
another, are other empirical dimensions that need to be examined. Finally,
the rule of law has often been considered a key component of a democracy.
Consequently, when the task is to find out how to detect empirically if some
aspect of that normative notion has been translated into reality, reference is
necessarily made to this dimension as well. As for the other aspects, a
discussion of definitions, indicators, and possibly measures of rule of law
has to be postponed to the third part of this book, once other elements of
analysis have been added.
In the proposals by Dahl (1970) and May (1978; seealso Kuper 2004), the
key feature of the responsive democracy lies in the results of decisions that
mirror the preferences of the governed. But according to this notion, procedural and content aspects are irnportant as well. From this perspective, there
is a democracy if there is a 'necessary correspondence between acts of governance and the wishes with respect to those acts of the persons who are
affected' (May 1978: 1); or, in a partially different version, democracy has to
be characterized by the 'conti.p.ued responsiveness of the government t~ the
preferences of its citizens, considered as political equals' (Dahl 1970: 1). This
definition postulates that citizens always have clear ideas about their preferences, taking it as read that they are all educated, informed, and aware.
Moreover, it is worth bearing in mind because it serves to emphasize an

36

The Basics

important point: whatever the intermediate principles and guaranteed rights


might be, freedom and equality, if they are to be effectively promoted, require
active citizens who are willing to interact within different collectivities, to
inform themselves and to participate, perhaps because they subscribe to and
are prompted by notions of public ethics. In an empirical perspective it is not
easy to assess the responsiveness of a political regime because of the difficulties in detecting empirically the 'preferences' of citizens on the more and more
complex issues of a modern democracy. However, because of its salience it has
to be done in some way, even with the (poor) help of proxies.
As regatds the more recent conceptions of participatory democracy, mainly
but not exdusively procedural, as for example those developed by Pateman
(1970), MacPherson (1977), and several other authors, participation and
freedom are the key empirical aspects to take into account. To assess the
prospects of translating such a notion empirically-already complemented by
an abundance of dassie political science literatme on participation-the
'ladder of participation' by Arnstein (1969) can be recalled. In her view the
goal and result of citizen participation must be the redistribution of power in
favour of citizens (as regards economic resources, information, and the
possibility of having a genuine say in the definition of policies). If participation does not lead to the redistribution of resources, to significant reforms
benefiting the 'have-nots', and the status quo is maintained, participation is
an empty ritual and a mere exercise in political rhetoric. In this respect
participation should promote change from the bottom up and in endogenous
forms. Thus, the 'ladder of participation' has three basic levels. The bottom
level is that of non-participation, which can basically be summed up by the
notion of'cure', and consists oftwo rungs or steps (manipulation, therapy). lt
applies to actions undertaken by the state for the explicit purpose of 'educating' and 'curing' the disadvantaged. These have inhibitory effects on the
empowerment of individuals and local communities. The next level, tokenism, 13 essentially relates to ways in which citizens are given a chance to hear
and be heard. The three rungs here are informing, consultation, and placation,
and are still the most common forms of participation today, albeit with a
different degree of political and social awareness. The highest level is citizen
power, where citizens have a genuine influence in decision-making processes,
and is divided into partnership, delegated power, and, at the top, citizen controL
In these rungs there is effective parity between participants, and the divide
between 'powerholders' and the 'have-nots' is dosed. 14
In Pateman's contribution to the debate on participatorydemocracy (1970)
and Bachrach and Baratz's analysis of the 'mobilization of bias' and 'nondecision' (1970), it is possible to find many parallels with the analysis proposed by Arnstein. 15 According to Pateman, there is a dose tie between

Definitional Conundrums

37
institutions fundamental for a society, the relations of Subordination stem16
ming from them, arid democracy. The bonds are based on dyadic relationships. Strong arid concrete inequalities are created within these institutions.
In their research Bachrach and Baratz affirm that citizen participation is a
form of political action that influences the allocation of values. Participatory
processes tend to redistribute power, authority, and influence in favour of
participants. In anti-poverty programmes, the involvement of disadvantaged
citizens is incentivized in order to arouse their political interest and, in this
way, to strengthen their ability to pursue their own interests. In the view of the
two authors, well-structured and guided participatory initiatives offer a
means of anticipating and dealing with conflicts. In this sense, it has been
observed that participatory practices can be viewed as technologies instrumental to the process of government. Such a perspective is effective ifbuilding
and maintaining consensus is considered a priority for the stability of democratic systems. There is no doubt that empirically participatory phenomena
change considerably according to the level focused on by research, be it statenational or local government. In the former, specific representative institutions and political participation in the circuits of representative democracy
remain absolutely central. Moreover, the solid tradition of research into
participation does not create unsurmountable problems in the empirical
assessment of this normative notitn, be it in one of the different conceptions
that are present in the literature, and which we have briefly commented on
here.

Deliberative democracy, as proposed by Cohen (1989), Habermas (1996),


Dryzek (1990, 2000), Bohman (1996), and others, is grounded on public
discussion among free and equal individuals and entails a procedural dimension (participation) and a content one (freedom). Accordingly, such a normative notion is a development of the previous one and like the other it is
grounded on an explicit or implicit criticism of representative democracy as
opposed to a much more effective direct democracy. By reaffirming the
importance of basic democratic principles, induding equality and freedom,
from which it draws its legitimacy, deliberative democracy is characterized by
its strongly normative impulse; it would like to find a different way of being
democratic without supporting the forms of representative democracy, considered to be in crisis.
More precisely, deliberative democracy is inspired by the search for satis- '
factory ways of combining preferetices and aggregating them in contexts of
pluralistic coexistence of the kind found in contemporary societies. Through
discussion, and individual and collective thought, views and preferences
mature and become more clearly delineated. One possible outcome of deliberative processes is that the preferenCP~ nf ~~..._: - ' -

38

The Basics

through interaction, and may change quite significantly. The path taken to
reach collective decisions and build consensus and agreement about a choice
is very different to the procedures and mechanisms of representative democracy. On the one hand, deliberative democracy is based on a set of principles
that tend to be expressed in universalistic terms, especially in Habermas's
interpretation of public democracy as a rediscovery of 'govemment through
discussion' and in the work of other North European, Anglo-Saxon, and
American scholars. 17 On the other hand, in cantrast to the wave of participation that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, deliberative democracy grants
little or no space to spontaneaus impulses, to the forms of protest and the
claims of movements, as the dimension of 'bottom up' participation. Even in
the model proposed by Habermas, the organizational networks of civil society
,converge in the public sphere in a structured way, institutionalizing a kind of
ideal communicative community through practices of public deliberation.
These are the presuppositions of the current of thought that adopts a radical
interpretation of deliberative thought, defined as a 'process based on public
18
discussion between free and equal individuals'.
Moreover, from Elster's (1993, 1998) different perspective, another theoreticalline of deliberative democracy emerges, which stresses the 'strategic'
interweaving of argumentation and negotiation in deliberative processes and
presupposes a strategic result-oriented rationality. Butthisvision of deliberative democracy weakens the role of dialogue as a 'neutral' discursive practice
animated by universalistic ideals and offers space for differences in the
expression of vested interests and reaching agreements based on an instrumental adjustment of preferences rather than a profound change in points of
view where values would be affected. Comparatively, the Habermasian perspective is more radical in affirming the desire of participants to reach
agreement and the power of the best argument, and in the capacity to go
beyond the instrumental agreement, developing a genuine sharing of views
between the parties involved, and hence consensus, against a background of
communication inspired by a faith in dialogic rationality. The empirical
translation of such a notion, already attempted by a few scholars (see e.g.
Bchtiger et al. 2005), partially overlaps with the previous normative notion,
and its main difference is in the more specific aspects of participation,
especially in the decision-making process, which should be analysed to detect
how much and with what characteristics some deliberative features have been
implemented in the reality of certain democracies. In fact, Bchtiger, Steiner,
and associates who translated the notion ofHabermas pointed to the working
of parliaments. 19
In the associative democracy, as theorized by Hirst (1997) and others,
accountability, participation, and freedom are key elements, that is, there is

Definitional Gonundrums

39

a mix of procedural :imd content features. Unlike the previous proposals,


where participation or deliberative decisions are promoted by public institutions, especially by the govemment (at various levels, from the supranational
to the subnational), a different scale of participation regards forms of selfmanagement by groups with a deep-rooted social base and different forms
of organization and action (committees, local associations, movements).
Groups participate by joining tagether in protest (on the basis of which
there are shared values), or by converging araund the definition of proposals
and projects with a view to bringing about change. Associative experiences of
'organized civil society' incorporate participatory and deliberative practices
designed to solve collective problems and satisfy social needs in subsidiary or
remedial action with respect to the state intervention; sometimes the interests
pursued are autonomaus and independent from the more or less explicitly
stated ones of the political-administrative system. Such forms reflect the
social nature of human beings and their need for associative life (Walzer
1992: 97). 'Democratic civil society' is an environment in which it is possible
to perform a responsible role of participation and choice, even if for 'minor'
decisions, and to gain direct experience in the 'exercise of authority'. 20
According to the reconstruction of associative democracy by Hirst (1993,
1994), which draws on and develops ideas from the Anglo-Saxon school of
political pluralism and the con,>orative socialism of the 1920s, associationalism has a dual quality in that it allows both for cooperation and the market.
The social solidarity action of self-run, voluntary associations, of active
citizenship networks, can contribute to individual growth, social well-being,
and the sustainability of economic development by attending to the production and reproduction of common goods, carrying out what is often a
subsidiary function in relation to that of governments. Hirst also stresses
the elements of spontaneaus activation in associationalism, the quality of selfgovemance and the voluntary nature of actions, particularly at a locallevel.
Associative democracy can strengthen representative institutions and help to
provide society with a framework of basic laws to guide social actors, to
oversee forms of public service provision, to hold public offleials accountable,
and to protect the rights and interests of citizens (Hirst 1997: 18). Underlying
Hirst's argument is observation of the crisis in the associative capacity of
political parties, the fragmentation of their hinterland, and the progressive
nationalization of society brought about as a consequence of the rationale and
means of producing public goods introduced with the welfare state, which
have gradually reduced society's capacity. and scope for taking steps to solve
\
soCI"al pro blems.-?J
The acknowledgement of pluralism and the valuing of the self-organizational components of informal social networks and intermediate ;~<:<:nri<>t;""

40

The Basics

bodies has encouraged a profound transformation of the state, starting with a


redefinition of its tasks. The state is called upon to act as an arbitrator and
guarantor, giving civil society organizations opportunities to act directly and
perform an overseeing function, while at the same time regulating that
associative pluralism. This perspective of political and social action reopens
the debate on the procedural dimension of democracy, suggesting original
and differentiated regulatory solutions, and also poses the question of how
the procedural component can be integrated with the participatory ones and
the welfare state. In our perspective it is interesting to stress again how
political thinkers have been striving to find alternatives to representative
democracy by developing different modes of participation at different levels
and with different forms.
. In the egalitarian or social democracy, equality is one of the two key empirically relevant dimensions and is complemented by freedom. In relation to this
normative notion, the most influential conception of all is the one developed
by Rawls (1971), who also uses the expression "'property-owning" democracy'. More recently, Ringen (2007) has focused once again on the interrelatedness, rather than the conflict, between the implementation of freedom
and that of equality, both being key values of democracy. If we briefly focus on
Rawls's contribution, his two principles of 'justice as fairness' are: (1) each
person has an equal right to a fully adequate scheme of equal basic liberties
which is compatible with a similar scheme ofliberties for all; and (2) social and
economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: they must be attached to
offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and they must be to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members
of society. The freedoms that those principles entail are: freedom of thought
and liberty of conscience; politicalliberties and freedom of association, as well
- as the freedoms specified by the liberty and integrity of the person; and finally,
the rights and liberties covered by the rule oflaw (see esp. Rawls 1993). Rawls
also argues that a virtually permanent feature of modern democracies is the
existence of a wide variety of divergent and incompatible conceptions of the
good, that is, a plurality of opposing but reasonable comprehensive doctrines,
which require the existence of capitalist firms, or the existence of workermanaged firms, or the existence of completely different forms of ownership
rights according to some unique communitarian conceptions of the good. A
'property-owning' democracy that permits the existence of a wider variety of
ownership rights, including socialist forms of ownership, should be favoured
in modern democratic conditions. From our perspective, the conception of
Rawls and similar ones by other authors, such as Ringen, can fairly readily be
empirically translated into the set of civil, political, and social rights that cover
both freedoms and equalities.

Definitional Gonundrums

41

Rule oflaw and freedom are the key empirical elements of good governance.
To better clarify this point, it should immediately be added that, within a very
lively and rich debate, the notion of governance has usually been grounded on
empirical analyses (see e.g. Pierre 2000). It refers to a complex set of structures
and processes, both public and private, which are not synonymous with
'government' (see Weiss 2000) and can be effectively C<?nceptualized as the
'capacity of public sector of steering, alone or in cooperation with other
actors, economy and society' (Peters, 2008: 445). 22 An excellent reconstruction is offered by Rhodes (1996), who stresses how with this notion there is
not a 'crisis' or the 'disappearance' of government and the state, but a
redefinition and repositioning of its role and function in a pluralized context
of actors taking part in public decision-making processes. If anything, it does
mark the end of the paradigm of government as a centralized, coercive, and
hierarchical form of power through a redefinition of the form of political
regulation in the interaction with social and economic regulations. Hooghe
and Marks (2001) classify forms of governance on the basis of the prevalent
definitions found in studies of the EU, international relations, federalism, '
local government, and public policies. From our perspective, the key feature
they draw attention to is the need to analyse different levels of government
even when considering normative conceptions of democracy. The discussion
could continue and doubts rlmain about what is the most effective definition
of this notion and the level niost appropriate for close analysis. But we are still
within an empirical debate.
The normative element intervenes when the adjective 'good' is added. In
this perspective one of the mostoriginal definitions (and analyses) of 'good
governance' is the one by Rothstein and Teorell (2008: 165-90), who consider
this notion as synonymous with 'quality of government' and strongly argue
that a key aspect of good governance is the 'impartiality in the exercise of
public authority' (p. 166) as a 'moral principle' for civil servants (p. 176) with
democracy as a necessary condition and impartiality implying rule of law as
well as enhancing efficiency/effectiveness (pp. 178-83). The World Bank
prefers a broader definition where 'good governance' is 'an efficient public
service, and independent judicial system and legal framework to enforce
contracts; the accountable administration of public funds; an independent
public auditor, responsible to a representative legislature; respect for the law
and human rights at all levels of government; a pluralistic institutional
structure; and a free press' (World Bank 1992). Or, in other words, once
again those of the World Baclc, there is a 'predictable, open and enlightened
policymaking (that is, transparent pro~sses); a bureaucracy imbued with a
professional ethos; an executive arm of government accountable for its
actions; and a strong civil society participating in public affairs; and all

The Basics

Definitional Conundrums

behaving under the rule oflaw' (World Bank 1994: vii). The notion has also
been adopted by other international organizations, and the most recurrent
empirical dimensions mentioned in different documents have been: rule of
law, government effectiveness, legitimacy and voice, political stability and
absence of violence, transparency, accountability, participation, responsiveness, and so on. 23 This means that ultimately we are not far away from other
normative notions when the empirical translation has been made.
A different normative path is to examine the main values that a contemporary democracy is supposed to implement with its policies. As already mentioned above, for several authors these are mainly freedom and equality/
solidarity. This can lead to a definition of a 'good' democracy as 'the set of
institutions that create the best opportunities to carry out freedom and
equality' or, in a more developed way, 'a stable institutional structure that
realizes the liberty and equality of citizens through the legitimate and correct
functioning of its institutions and mechanisms'. Thus, a good democracy is a
broadly legitimated regime that satisfies its citizens. 24 When institutions have
the full backing of civil society, they can pursue democratic values. If, by
contrast, institutions have to postpone their objectives and expend energy and
resources on consolidating and maintaining their legitimacy, crossing even
the minimum threshold for democracy becomes a remarkable feat. Second, in
a good democracy the citizens themselves have the power to check and
evaluate whether the government is pursuing the objectives of liberty and
equality according to the rule of law. They can monitor the efficiency of the
application of the laws in force, the efficacy of the decisions made by government, and the political responsibility and accountability of elected officials in
relation to the demands expressed by civil society. All this implies that the
different levels of government-local, regional, national, supranational (especially for European countries)-cannot be overlooked (see also Morlino
2004). The affirmation of the two principles of freedom and equality must
occur at the local (municipal or regional), national, and supranationallevels,
with all the implications and especially the limitations that this inevitably
entails (see Dahl 1994). It must also take into consideration the various
spheres of everyday life, from the workplace to the educational system and
associational activities. Consequently, any attempt to come up with an ideal
definition must adopt a perspective that starts with the individual and society
rather than with government institutions. To ensure a greater degree of
democracy, one cannot avoid looking first of all at the establishment and
extension of the rights of individuals or communities of varying sizes. If this is
the case, the next step is that the realization of freedom and equality, even
though these may be differently conceived, must necessarily be based on an
increasingly rich and extensive set of individual rights.

Dahl (1998), Beetharn (1999), and other authors help to explain the further
step required to arrive at a clarification and formulation of rights. In fact, they
suggest a n umber of more specific principles that are also means of affering
the best jnstitutional opportunities for ensuring freedom and equality. Above
all, these principles do not just include aspects such as recognition of the
political inclusion of all adult individuals, equal voting rights, the promotion
of the effective participation of all citizens, and the availability of clear and
correct information for all. Drawing once again on Dahl and Sartori, they also
encompass the promotion of the accountability of government and of its
capacity to respond to the demands of citizens and communities, and control
.of the decisional agenda and of the outcomes of such decisions on the part of
citizens themselves or in various other ways that may be devised.
If these aspects, which are essential for the achievement of freedom and
equality, are to be effectively pursued, contemporary democracies will also
have to attend to issues such as environmental conservation, the right to
healthcare, assistance for the elderly and disabled, the right to a job, provisions for the unemployed, the need to ensure everyone has a reasonable
staridard of living, the right to educational opportunities, and also the
promotion of equity in private disputes or between public and private interests. Not to include in an analysis of the ideal democracy the safeguarding of
the substantive elements outliped above would paradoxically mean ignoring
the steps already taken by many real democracies to promote equality. It
would also involve a failure to recognize that in today's world the protection
and promotion of those social rights have become just as indispensable for
democracy as the principles of inclusion, participation, equal voting rights,
accountability, and so on, and indeed are closely related to them. In short, it
would result in a definition of the ideal democracy that in some ways falls
short of what real ones have already achieved.
A concrete understanding of the affirmation and protection of the values
and rights mentioned above requires a third step, namely the pinpointing of
the institutional tools that best realize them. Once again, Dahl (1971: 3 and
1982, 10-ll) is useful here, with his emphasis on the need to have the
following eight institutional guarantees: (a) freedom of association and organization; (b) freedom ofthought (and expression); (c) the right to vote; (d)
the right of politicalleaders to compete for (electoral) support; (e) alternative
sources of information; (f) the possibility of being elected to public office
(passive electorate); (g) free and fair elections; and (h) the existence of
institutions that make government policies dependent on the vote ruid on
other expressions of preference.
The centrality of rights assumes the possibility that they may be extended
and deepened, and may be concretely exercised with greater satisfaction. One

42

43

44

The Basics
procedural
genetic

Definitional Gonundrums

45

Notes

minimalist

normative
- liberal, representative democracy
- responsive democracy
- participatory democracy
- deliberative democracy
- associative democracy
- egalitarian or social democracy
- good governance
- good democracy
Figure 2.1. Most salient definitions of dernocracy

example of this in relation to the right to vote might be the granting of the
right-which, indeed, has already become concrete reality in many
countries-to express a preference not only for a candidate or party but also
for a government. In this way, citizens would feel that they have more scope for
expressing their political will. Likewise, a more profound affirmation of
the principle of inclusion, and once again of voting rights, would involve
the granting of political citizenship to immigrant residents. Such a proposed
definition of good democracy is inevitably complex. It starts with the individual and develops in at least three steps: identification of the two most general
principles; preliminary delineation of more specific, intermediate principles;
and specification of the set of rights that stem from the first two steps. However,
the empirical translation should be simpler with the concrete emphasis on the
rights, the related content, and the ways of guaranteeing them.
To conclude this section and the chapter, it is worth stressing that empirical
notions of democracy, especially the minimalist one, are essential compasses
in the empirical research and the normative notions of democracy may be
empirically translated to assess their actual presence in the different countries
or political situations. But when we switch from the ideal discourse to
empirical analysis the enormous richness of different conceptualizations of
democracy can only be translated into a few recurrent, empirical features we
can explore. These include rule of law, electoral accountability, institutional
accountability, participation (the most common of the normative notions),
competition, freedom, equality/solidarity, and responsiveness. Chapters 7 and
8 will show such a translation and its consequences for the analysis of
democratic deepening. As a way of summing up the entire chapter, Figure
2.1 lists the most recurrent definitions of democracy that are useful for the
chapters that follow.

1. Gallie appropriately cites democracy as an example of a contested concept:


'Politics being the art of the possible, democratic targets will be raised or lowered
as circumstances alter, and democratic achievements are always judged in the
light of such alterations' (Gallie 1956: 186).
2. See Part III.
3. A good, up-to-date review of notions of democracy is in Bernhagen (2009: 24-40).
4. The very first edition of Vom Wesen und Wert Demokratie (Tbingen: ]. C. B.
Mohr) appeared in 1920, and the 'Foundations ofDemocracy' (Ethics, 56(1)) was
published in 1955.
5. By responsiveness, Sartori and other authors mean the capacity of governors
to respond to the demands of the governed. More will be said about this in
Chapter 8.
6. For more on this term, see 5.1.
7. Responsiveness and related problems of definitions and measures are discussed in
Part III.
S: On these definitions of democracy see also Diamond (esp. 1999: 7-17). A
minimalist empirical definition, such as the one discussed in the text and those
suggested by Diamond are different from the 'minimalist' theoretical conception
'defended' by Przeworski (see 1999: 23-55).
9. As the assessment of elect~ns is a key element in this minimalist definition, the
proposal by Munck (see 2009: esp. chapter 5) should taken into account and
followed.
10. Among the normative notions of democracy I have not included 'self-definition',
that is, the democratic conception proposed and in some instances developed by
specific political or social movements, groups, and leaders in a given moment in a
country. There are two obvious reasons for this. Firstly, it would involve an
enormous amount of empirical research in several countries, where the specifics
of every situation would emerge as being important, if not predominant features,
and that is not the purpose of this study. Secondly, the non-specific aspects would
in alllikelihood overlap with the notions mentioned and discussed in the text. For
more on self-definitions of democracy see, for example, Koelble and Lipuma
(2008). A common characteristic of all the definitions mentioned in the text is the
implicit, but strong reference to the nationallevel. However, not only can we
imagine a supranational democracy, but a kind of experiment in one is actually
underway, despite hesitations, stops, and steps backwards, and that is the one
represented by the EU. This cannot be ignored, and some reference is made to it
in the third part of the boqk.
r
11. A dassie work outlining the principal normative notions of democracy is Held
(1987 and 2006).
12. For definitions, indicators and measures of accountabilities, see Part III.

46

The Basics

Definitional Gonundrums

13. The term is used to refer to the 'practice or policy of making no more than a
minimal effort to offer minorities equal opportunities to those enjoyed by the
majority' (Webster Dictionary). According to Arnstein, the demands of minorities and weaker sections of society are managed through powerfully mediated
forms of listening designed to put a damper on conflicts in the interest of social
order, but which are not foilowed by any real measures to solve problems or
significant changes in the way decisions are made.
14. I would like to thank Francesca Gelli for calling my attention to this author.
15. The theoretical hypothesis in question had already been formulated by Bachrach
and ~aratz in two articles published many years earlier in the American Political
Science Review, entitled respectively 'Two Faces of Power' (1962) and 'Decisions
and Non Decisions: An Analytical Framework' (1963).
'
16. Pateman examines the institution of marriage in relation to the subordination of
women and in the ambit of work and employment, which creates bonds and
relations of Subordination particularly for women and the young. These institutions are viewed not so much in terms of relations between individuals, but as
social institutions--codes and conventions that take root in society and become
cognitive structures as weil as mechanisms of power.
17. The universalistic and normative tendencies are emphasized hereinordernot to
create misunderstanding, given that critics are prone to describe deliberative
democracy and its theoretical prernises as 'soft'.
18. The importance of dialogue lies in the comparing of views by the various parties
involved through discussion backed up by rational argumentation. This means
not merely asserting one's point of view, but publicly explaining the motivations,
in a situation where everyone enjoys equality and freedom of opinion.
19. On deliberative democracy especially there is a blossoming of mixed conceptions.
Among them those on 'liberal deliberative democracy' and 'participatory deliberative democracy', which Della Porta (2011: esp. sect. 3) singled out in her
analysis of the connections between these notions and social movements, can
be noted.
20. In the 'associative network' of civil society, people make decisions that may be
minor, but are capable nonetheless of reducing the distance that otherwise forms
between citizens and the state, and even the iniquitous outcomes of the market
can be lirnited in this way (Walzer 1992: 99). The conclusion reached by Walzer is
that the state cannot last long if it is alienated from civil society, which at the same
time cannot be viewed as an alternative to the state (governance does not exclude
government). There are at least two fundamental reasons for this. Firstly, because
the organizations belonging to 'civil society' rely on the help of the state in various
ways (specific prograrnmes and services, financial resources, tax reductions and
exemptions, protection, and, above all, the perforrning of a regulatory function
on the part of the state, which acts as a guarantoi:) in order to realize their
projects. Secondly, because mechanical procedures and rigid bureaucratic apparatuses can take over in 'civil society' as weil, leading to radically unequal power
relations and reproducing conditions of injustice (Walzer 1992: 104).

21. In the scheme proposed by Hirst (1997), associative democracy is a system for
organizing political and sociallife that encourages self-govemance through voluntary associations. This helps, in his view, to tackle three fundamental issues: (1)
to guarantee the responsibility ef representative democracies; (2) to deal with
increasingly pluralist societies with diverging values; (3) to enable those who are
successful to make use of services that have all the advantages of being collective
without, however, losing their flexibility, and maintaining attention for disadvan
taged individuals.
22. Other definitions of governance are: minimal state (Rhodes 1996); corporate
govemance (Rhodes 1996; World Bank); new public management (see Mathiasen
1996; Terry 1998; Peters and Pierre 1998; Pierre 2000; Lynn 2006); socio-cybernetic
system (see Kooirnan 1993; Rhodes 1996); networks (Rhodes 1996; Peters 2008);
multi-level governance (Hooghe and Marks 2001); democratic governance
(Franck 1992); and global govemance (Carin et al. 2007). Some ofthem (minimal
state, corporate govemance, new public management, good governance, sociocybernetic system, self-organizing networks) arealso discussed by Rhodes (1996).
23. In addition to the World Bank the other international organizations that have
adopted the notion of 'good governance' include: United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP); United Nations Economic and Social Corninission for Asia
and the Pacific (UNESCAP); International Govemance Office (IGO); Canadian
International Development Agency (CIDA); and Austrian Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastem Europe (ADC). I am not going to discuss
why these organizations adop~ed the notion. I just wish to mention briefly that it
has been considered a way ofnot appearing to interfere in the domestic affairs of
the countries where they intervene in different ways. A similar notion has been
adopted by the EU, which defines 'good governance' in terms of five principles:
' [ ... J openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence [ ... ]
Each principle is important for establishing more democratic governance. They
unde;:pin democracy and the rule oflaw in the Member States, but they apply to
alllevels of government-global, European, national, regional and local' (European Commission 2001: 10). Later the notion of'democratic govemance' was also
proposed more explicitly: it 'spans a broad range of issues, such as respect and
promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, democratisation and
citizens' involvement in the political process, the rule oflaw and access to justice,
gender equality, human security, access to information, management of migration flows, access to basic public services, effective, transparent, responsive and
accountable State institutions, sustainable management of resources and promotion of sustainable economic growth and social cohesion' (European Commission
and Council General Secretariat 2009: 3-4).
24. Of course, such a definition overlooks a few dassie issues related to individual
satisfaction such as when individuals have incompatible desires. I thank Uaniela
Piana who called my attention to this, although I cannot develop the point here.

47

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

3
Are There Hybrid Regimes?
Finer (1970: 441-531) was one ofthe first authors to singleout the existence
of farade democracies or semi-democracies to indicate regimes that are no
Ionger authoritarian, but not yet minimally democratic and have institutions
that are recurrent in a democracy, such as a constitutional charter and
elections, but where the former is not actually implemented and the latter
are largely constrained. Other authors such as Rouquie (1975) and O'Donnell
and Schmitter (1986), who had a Spanish background and were working on
Latin American countries, Iabelied the phenomenon of ambiguous cases
dictablandas and democraduras. Thus, the notion of hybrid regimes has been
present in the dassie political science Iiterature for years. The basic change in
recent years is the sheer size and variety of the phenomenon.
As a consequence, the view of Croissant and Merkel (2004: 1) that 'the
conceptual issue of diminished sub-type of democracy ... has begun the new
predominant trend in democratic theory and democratization studies' comes as
no surprise. Nor does the assertion by Epstein et al. (2006: 556, 564-5) that
'partial democracies' 'account for an increasing portion of current regimes and
the lion's share of regime transitions', adding, however, that there is little available
information about 'what prevents full democracies from sliding back to partial
democracies or autocracies, and what prevents partial democracies from sliding
back to autocracy' and that 'the determinants of the behaviour of the partial
democracies elude our understanding'. Nor, finally, is it surprising that a variety of
Iabels have been coined for these regimes in addition to those mentioned above:
'ex:clusionary democracy' (Remmer 1985--6), 'serni-democracies' (Diamond et al.
1989), 'electoral democracies' (Diamond 1999; Freedom House), 'illiberal
democracies' (Zakaria 1997), 'competitive authoritarianisms' (Letvitsky and
Way 2002), 'serni-authoritarianisms' (Ottaway 2003), 'defective democracies'
(Merkel 2004), 'partial democracies' (Epstein et al. 2006), 'mi:x:ed regimes'
(Bunce and Wolchik 2008), to mention just some of the expressions and some
of the scholars who have investigated what is denoted here by the broader term of
hybrid regimes (see, in particular, Karl1995; Diamond 2002; Wigell2008). 1
In trying to gain a better understanding of the reasons for such attention it
is worth bearing in mind that complex phenomena such as democratization

49

are never linear, and cases of a return to more ambiguous situations have by
no means been exceptions to the rule in recent years. Moreover, cases of
democracies, even if minimal, going 'all' the way back to stable authoritarian
regimes have been much less frequent: 2 it is more difficult, though not
impossible, to recreate conditions of stable coercion once the majority of a
given society has been involved and become politically active in the course of
transition. If nothing else, as Dahl noted many years ago (1971), greater
coercive resources would be required. Furthermore, in periods of democratization, even if only as a result of an imitation effect, authoritarian crises and
the resulting initial phases of change should be more frequent. Consequently,
there are several reasons for the greater frequency of regimes characterized by
uncertainty and transition. Moreover, if the ultimate goal is to examine and
explain how regimes move towards democracy, it is fully justified, indeed
opportune, to focus on those phases of uncertainty and change. But here we
have a relevant aspect that-this time surprisingly-the Iiterature has failed to
address and solve: when considering those phases of uncertainty and ambiguity, are we dealing with an institutional arrangement with some, perhaps
minimal, degree of stabilization, namely a regime in a proper sense; or are we
actually analysing transitional phases from some kind of authoritarianism (or
traditional regime) to democracy, or vice versa?
Thus, starting with definitions of the terms 'regime', 'authoritarianism', and
t
'democracy' we have to discuss and clarify the reasons for the proposed
definition of hybrid regime; try to answer the key question posed in the
chapter title, which, as will become clear, is closely bound up with the
prospects for change in the nations that have such ambiguous forms of
political organization and, more generally, with the spread of democratization; propose a typology of hybrid regimes; and, in the last section, reach a
number of salient conclusions.

3.1 A WIDESPREAD PHENOMENON?

The simplest and most immediate way of understanding the nature of the
phenomenon under scrutiny is to refer to the principal sets of macro-political .
data that exist in the literature. Data have been gathered by international
bodies like the World Bank, the OECD, and the United Nations; by private
foundations, such as the IDEA and Bertelsman Stiftung; by individual scholars or research groups, like Polity IV, originally conceived by Ted Gurr, or the
project on human rights protection undertaken by Todd Landman (2005),

The Basics

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

who formulated indicators of democracy and good governance, and also


produced an effective survey (2003) of various initiatives in this field; and
even by prominent magazines like the Economist, whose Intelligence Unit has
drawn up a well-designed index of democracy. But it is not necessary to
survey these here. Despite all the limitations and problems, which have
been widely discussed, 3 for the purposes of this chapter the data provided
by Freedom House have the insuperable advantage of enabling a longitudinal
analysis. In fact, they have been collected since the beginning of the 1970s and
regularly updated on an annual basis. These data can, therefore, be used to
gain a better grasp of the phenomenon. 4
In 2010 the Freedom House data feature sixty out of 194 formally independent countries (in 2007 there were fifty-eight), which have 30 per cent of the
world's population and are political arrangements that can be defined as partially free, the concrete term closest to the notion ofhybrid regimes. 5 'Partially
:free' regimes have an overall ratingrauging from 3 to 5.6 They are present in
every continent: five in Europe (four of which are in the Balkans); twenty-six in
Africa; fourteen in Asia (two are in the Middle East), nine in the Americas (five
in South America and four in Central America), and four in Oceania. There are
also forty-seven non-free regimes, which might be defined as stable authoritarianisms and correspond to 23 per cent of the world's population,7 and eightyseven democracies, amounting to 47 per cent of the world's population. Overall,
then, the partially free regimes exceed the non-free ones bothin number andin
terms of percentage of population. One further observation is that, with a few
exceptions like Turkey, 8 most of the nations that fall within the 'partially free'
category are medium-smaU or small. Finally, from a European point of view,
despite the intense efforts of the European Union, other international organizations, and specific European governments, almost none of the Balkan nations
have embraced democracy: apart from Slovenia and Croatia, Serbia and
Montenegro and on the borderline while Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and
Macedonia (which has even applied to join the European Union) are partially
free regimes. The other European nation in the same situation is Moldova,
which borders Romania and Ukraine. However, before proceeding any further
with the empirical analysis, it is necessary to define some terms, which will help
to give greater precision to the current rather fuzzy terrninology.

relatively speaking, is the broadest notion, whereas most of the others (e.g.
'exclusionary democracy', 'partial democracies', 'electoral democracies', 'illiberal democracies', 'defective democracies', 'semi-authoritarianisms') seem to
refer to more specific models, mainly ilirninished forms of democracy. And it
seems appropriate to come up with a precise definition of the broadest notion
before going ahead and mapping out the diversified realities inside it. 9 In
short, we are looking here for the genus that comes before' the species.
Moreover, an adequate conceptualization of the 'hybrid regime' must start
with a definition ofboth the noun and the adjective 'trapped' between a nondemocratic (above all, traditional, authoritarian and post-totalitarian) and a
democratic set-up. As regards the term 'regime', consideration will be given
here to 'the set of government institutions and of norms that are either
formalized or are informally recognized as existing in a given territory and
with respect to a given population'. 10 Emphasis will be placed on the institutions, even if they are not formal, that exist in a given moment in a given
nation. While they no Ionger configure some form of non-democracy and do
not yet configure a complete democracy, such institutions still bear traces of
the previous political reality. In addition, in order to have so methingthat may
be labelled as a regime we need an at least minimal stabilization. Fishman
(1990: 428) recalls that regimes 'are more permanent forms of political
organization'.n Otherwise, we 'pick up fireflies for lanterns' by confusing a
temporary changing situatio~ with a more stabilized one, whatever the
reasons might be. Obviously, the consequences of making such a distinction
are very significant. In any case, we will totally misunderstand the entire
situation if we fail to assess whether there is or has been stabilization or
not. This will be a key element of our definition, one that differentiates it from
those existing in the literature, even the mostprominent ones (see above).
The second point that can be stressed, then, is that a regime may not fulfil
the minimalist requirements of a democracy, in other words it does not meet
all the more immediately controllable and empirically essential conditions
that make it possible to establish a threshold below which a regime cannot be
considered democratic. As recalled in the previous chapter, for a minimalist
definition of democracy, we need at the same time: (a) universal suffrage,
both male and female; (b) free, competitive, recurrent, and fair elections; (c)
more than one party; (d) different and alternative media sources. Tobetter
understand this definition, it is worth stressing that a regime of this kind must
provide real guarantees of civil and political rights that enable the actual
implementation of those four aspects. That is, such rights are assumed to exist
if there is authentic universal suffrage, the supreme expression of political
rights, that is the whole adult demos has the right to vote; if there are free, fair,
and recurrent elections as an expression of the effective existence of freedom

50

3.2 DEFINITION AND ANALYTIC DIMENSIONS

Before proceeding with our analysis, it is worth stating that we prefer the term
'hybrid regime' to all the others present in the literature (see above) as this,

51

The Basics

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

of speech and thought as weil; if there is more than one effectively competing
party, demonstrating the existence of genuine and practised rights of assembly and association; and if there are different media sources belanging to
different proprietors, proof of the existence of the liberties of expression and
thought. One important aspect of this definition is that in the absence of just
one of these requirements, or if at some point one of them is no Ionger met,
there is no Ionger a democratic regime, but some other political and institutional set-up, possibly an intermediate one marked by varying degrees of
uncertainty and ambiguity.
Finaily, it is worth stressing that this minimalist definition focuses on the
institutions that characterize democracy: elections, competing parties (at least
potentially so), and media pluralism and it can be added that it is also
important that these institutions and rights should not be subject to, or
conditioned by, 'non-elected actors' or exponents of other ex:temal regimes
(see previous chapter and Schmitter and Karl1993: 45-6). The former refers
to the armed forces, religious hierarchies, econornic oligarchies, a hegemonic
party, or even a monarch with pretensions to infl.uencing decision-making
processes or at any rate the overall functioning of a democracy; in the second
case, a regime might be conditioned by an ex:temal power that deprives the
democracy in question of its independence and sovereignty by pursuing nondemocratic policies.
To avoid terminological confusion it should be pointed out that the
'electoral democracies' defined by Diamond (1999: 10) solely with regard to
'constitutional systems in which parliament and executive are the result of
regular, competitive, multi-party elections with universal suffrage' are not
minimal liberal democracies, in which additionally there is no room for
'reserved domains' of actors who are not eleetorally responsible, directly or
indirectly, there is inter-institutional accountability, that is the responsibility
of one organ towards another as laid down by the constitution, and finally,
there are e:ffectively applied norms to sustain and preserve pluralism and
individual and group freedoms (Diamond 1999: 10-11) .12 The term 'electoral
democracies' is also used by Freedom House with a similar meaning: an
electoral democracy is understood as a multi-party, competitive system with
universal suffrage, fair and competitive elections with the guarantee of a secret
ballot and voter safety, access to the media on the part of the principal parties,
and open electoral campaigns. In the application of the term by Freedom
House, all democracies are 'electoral democracies' but not all are liberal.
Therefore, even those regimes that do not have a maximum score in the
indicators for elections continue to be considered electoral democracies.
More specifically, a score equal to or above 7, out of a maximum of 12, is
sufficient for partially free nations to be classified as electoral democracies. 13

Thus, in both uses of the term, an 'electoral democracy' could only be a


specific model of a hybrid regime, but not a minimal democracy.
As regards the definition of non-democratic regimes, reference must be
made at least to traditional and authotitarian regimes. The former are 'based
on the personal power of the sovereign, who binds his underlings in a
relationship of fear and reward; they are typically legibus soluti regimes,
where the sovereign's arbitrary decisions are not liniited by norms and do
not need to be justi:fied ideologically. Power is thus used in particularistic
forms and for essentially private ends. In these regimes, the armed forces and
police play a central role, while there is an evident lack of any form of
developed ideology and any structure of mass mobilization, as a single
party usually is. Basically, then, the political set-up is dominated by traditional elites and institutions' (Morlino 2003: 80).
As for the authoritarian regimes, the definition advanced by Linz (1964:
255) is still the most useful one: a 'political system with limited, non-responsible political pluralism; without an elaborated and guiding ideology, but with
distinctive mentalities; without either extensive or intense political mobilization, except at some points in their development, and in which a leader, or,
occasionally, a small group, exercises power from within formally ill-defined,
but actually quite predictable, limits'. However, with respect to such a
definition, which identifies five significant dimensions, i.e. lirnited pluralism,
distinctive values, 14 low poli~al mobilization, a small leading group, and
ill-defined, but predictable, lirnits to citizens' rights, for our purpose we need
to stress the constraints imposed on political pluralism within a society that
has no recognized autonomy or independence as weil as no effective political
participation of the people, with the consequent exercise of various forms of
state suppression. A further, neglected, but nonetheless important, dimension
should also be added-the institutions that characterize authoritarian regimes,
which are invariably of marked importance in many transitional cases. Once
created and having become stabilized over a certain nurober of years, institutionsoften leave a significant legacy for a new regime, even when it has become
firmly democratic.
In addition to Morlino (2003), other authors stress this aspect. For example, it is worth recalling the whole debate on 'electoral authoritarianisms'
(Schedler 2006). In fact, with this term Schedler (2006: 5) refers to specific
models of authoritarianism-not to a hybrid regime-specifically characterized by electoral institutions and practices; in this instance, hybrid regimes are
the result of changes that b~gin within these types of authoritariariism.
Moreover, the attention given to authoritarian institutions is relevant for
other important reasons. Firstly, the existence of efficient repressive apparatuses capable of implementing the above~mentioned demobilization policies,

52

53

54

The Basics

for instance security services, which may be autonomaus or part of the


military structure. Secondly, the partial weakness or the absence of mobilization structures, such as the single party or unions which may be vertical ones
admitting both workers and employers, or other sirnilar state institutions,
that is, structures capable of simultaneously generating and Controlling participation. There could be distinct forms of parliamentary assembly, possibly
based on the functional and corporative representation of interests (see
below); distinctive electoral systems; military juntas; ad hoc constitutional
organs; or other specific organs different from those that e:xisted in the
15
previous regime. Obviously, there is also another implicit aspect that it is
worth stressing: the absence of real guarantees regarding the various political
and civil rights.
Limited, non-responsible pluralism, which may range from monism to a
certain number of important and active actors in the regime, is a key aspect to
recall. For every non-democratic regime, then, it is important above all to
pinpoint the significant actors, for whom a distinction can be made between
institutional actors and politically active social actors. Examples of the form er
are the army, the bureaucratic system or a part thereof and, where applicable,
a single party; the latter include the Church, industrial or financial groups,
landowners, and in some cases even unions or transnational econornic structures with major interests in the nation concemed. Such actors are not
politically responsible according to the typical mechanism of liberal democracies, that is, through free, competitive, and fair elections. If there is 'responsibility', it is exercised at the level of 'invisible politics' in the real relations
between, for instance, military leaders and economic groups or landowners.
Furthermore, elections or the other forms of electoral participation that may
e:xist, for instance direct consultations through plebiscites, have no democratic significance and, above all, are not the expression of rights, freedom,
and genuine competition to be found in democratic regimes. They have a
mainly symbolic, legitimating significance, an expression of consensus and
support for the regime on the part of a controlled, non-autonomaus civil
society.
Having proposed definitions for minimalist democracy, traditional regime,
and authoritarianism, it is now possible to start delineating hybrid regimes.
They are more than just 'mixed regimes', which, as defined by Bunce and
Wolchik (2008: 6), 'fall in the sprawling middle of a political continuum
anchored by democracy on one end ... and dictatorship on the other end'. As
suggested by Karl (1995: 80) in relation to some Latin American countries,
they may be characterized by 'uneven acquisition of procedural requisites of
democracf, without a 'civilian control over the military', with sectors of the
population that 'remain politically and economically disenfranchised', and

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

55

with a 'weak judiciary'. But again this definition only refers to authoritarianisms that partially lose some of their key characteristics, retain some authoritarian or traditional features, and at the same time acquire some of the
characteristic institutions and procedures of democracy, but not others. A
hybrid regime, on the other hand, may also have a set of institutions where,
going down the inverse path, some key elements of democracy have been lost
and authoritarian characteristics acquired. Thus, it has to be adequately
completed, for example, by induding some of the aspects mentioned by
Levitsky and Way (2002: 52-8) in their analysis of a specific model ofhybrid
regime (competitive authoritarianism), such as the e:xistence of 'incumbents
(who) routinely abuse state resources, deny the opposition adequate media
coverage, harass opposition candidates and their supporters, and in some case
manipulate electoral results'.
This discussion, however, prompts reflection about two elements. First, a
hybrid regime is always a set of ambiguous institutions that maintain aspects
of the past. In other words, and this is the second point, it is a 'corruption' of
the preceding regime, lacking as it does one or more essential characteristics
ofthat regime but also failing to acquire other characteristics that would make
it fully democratic or authoritarian (see definitions above). Consequently, to
define hybrid regimes more precisely it seems appropriate to take a different
line from the one suggested in the literatme and to explicitly include the past
of such regimes in the definillon itself. The term 'hybrid' can thus be applied
to all those regimes preceded by a period of authoritarian or traditional rule,
followed by the beginnings of greater tolerance, liberalization, and a partial
relaxation of the restrictions on pluralism; or, all those regimes which,
following a period of minimal democracy in the sense indicated above, are
subject to the intervention of non-elected bodies-the military, above allthat place restrictions on competitive pluralism without, however, creating a
more or less stable authoritarian regime. There are, then, three possible
hypotheses behind a definition taking account of the context of origin,
which can be better explicated as follows: the regime arises out of one of the
different types of authoritarianism that have existed in recent decades, or even
earlier; the regime arises out of a traditional regime, a monarchy or sultanism;
or the regime arises out of the crisis of a previous democracy. To these must be
added a fourth, which is an important specification of the second: the regime
is the result of decolonialization that has never been followed by either
authoritarian or democratic stabilization.
If, to gain a closer empirical understanding of a hybrid regime, onerdevelops at least the first and second of these hypotheses a little further-though
the majority of cases in recent decades would seem to fall into the first
category-it can be seen that alongside the old actors of the previous

57

The Basics

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

authoritarian or traditional regime, a nurober of opposition groups have


clearly taken root, thanks also to some partial, relative respect of civil rights.
These groups are allowed to participate in the political process, but have little
substantial possibility of governing. There are, then, a nurober of parties, of
which one may remain hegemonie-dominant in semi-competitive elections;
at the same time there is already some form of real competition amongst the
candidates of that party. The other parties are fairly unorganized, of recent
creation or recreation, and have only a small following. There is some degree
of real participation, but it is minimal and usually limited to the election
period: Often, a powerfully distorting electoral system allows the hegemoniedominant party to maintain an enormous advantage in the distribution of
seats; in many cases the party in question is a bureaucratic structure rife with
patronage favours and intent on surviving the ongoing transformation. This
means that there is no Ionger any justification for the regime, not even merely
on the basis of all-encompassing and ambiguous values. Other forms of
participation during the authoritarian period, if there have ever been any,
are just a memory of the past. Evident forms of police repression are also
absent, and so the role of the relative apparatuses is not prominent, while the
position of the armed forces is even more low-key. Overall, there is little
institutionalization and, above all, organization of the 'state', if not a fullblown process of deinstitutionalization. The armed forces may, however,
maintain an evident political role, though it is stillless explicit and direct. 16
Moreover, hybrid regimes often stem from the attempt, at least temporarily
successful, by moderate governmental actors in the previous authoritarian or
traditional regime to resist intemal or extemal pressures on the dominant
regime, to continue to maintain order and the previous distributive set-up,
and to partially satisfy-or at least appear to do so-the demand for greater
democratization on the part of other actors, the participation of whom is also
contained within limits. Consequently, there are potentially as many different
variants of transitional regimes as there are types of authoritarian and traditional models. Many cases could be fitted into this model, which says a good
deal about their potential significance. 17
In disentangling empirical realities that fit the previously formulated definition of the hybrid regime from different transitional situations, we should
add that there has been some sort of stabilization or duration, at least-we
submit-for a decade, of those ambiguous uncertain institutional set-ups.
Consequently, to avoid a misleading analysis of democratization processes we
can define a hybrid regime as a set of institutions that have been persistent, be

and forms of independent; autonomaus participation, but the absence of at least


one of the Jour aspects of a minimal democracy.

56

they stable or unstable, for at least a decade, have been preceded by authoritarianism, a traditional regime (possibly with colonial characteristics), or even a
minimal democracy, and are characterized by the break-up of limited pluralism

As a way of stressing the differences with the existing literature (see above)
and of making sense of the definition above, .it is useful to emphasize the
reasons that justify it: to better understand what hybrid regimes are, it is
necessary to disentangle cases of transitional phases from hybrid regimes
stricto sensu, where the extent of achieved stabilization has to be taken into
account. At the same time it is important to grasp the ambiguities and the
fuzziness of regimes in which features ofboth democracy and authoritarianism coexist, and in this vein, to consider the institutional past that is so
important to them. But if this is the case, two key questions need to be
addressed: ( 1) Are there actually cases of hybrid regimes, or does reality just
throw up transitional cases, as might sound more reasonable? (2) If there
actually are hybrid regimes and transitional phases as well, what characterizes
one and the other? In other words, is it possible to elaborate a good typology
of hybrid regimes and single out the recurrent characteristics of transitional
phases? The remairring sections of the chapter will be devoted to answering
these questions.

3.3 EMPIRICA~ CASES OF HYBRID REGIMES,


OR SHEER FANTASY?

A key element that runs against the effective existence of hybrid regime, that
is, institutional set-ups that are not democracy, nor authoritarianism, nor
traditionalism, is the expected low probability of duration. In fact, once some
degree of freedom and competition exists and is implemented in various
ways, it seems inevitable that the process will continue, even though the
direction it will actually take is unknown. lt might lead to the establishment
of a democracy, but it could also move backwards, with the restoration of the
previous authoritarian or other type of regime, or the establishment of a
different authoritarian or non-democratic regime. Is this constitutive short
duration or high instability confirmed by the Freedom House data?
If we assuroe that we are facing a transitional period when the 'partially
free' assessment is assigned for more than two years but less than a decade and
there is a regime in the pro~er sense when the same/similar political set-up
has lasted for ten years or more, and we consider all countries that were
'partially free' between 1989 and 2010, we can immediately detect and differentiate the forty-six cases of transition from the hybrid regimes. Among the

59

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

The Basics

58

Table 3.1. Transitional cases: towards democracy, authoritarianism, or uncertainty


(1989-2010)
Transition to
democracy

Transition to
authoritarianism

Uncertainty in a
democratic context

Uncertainty in an
authoritarian context

Brazil (9)
Croatia (9)
Domin. Rep. (5)
EI Salvador (8)
Ghana (8)
Guyana (4 +1)
India (7)
Indonesia (7)
Romania (5)
South Africa (5)
Taiwan (7)

Afghanistan (3)
Algeria (3)
Azerbaijan (6)
Bahrain ( 4+ 7)
Belarus (5)
Bhutan (3 +2)
Egypt (4)
Eritrea (4)
Kazakhstan (3)
Swaziland (4)
Thailand (7+ 1)
Togo (3) +3
Tunisia (4) +1

Bolivia (7)
Ecuador (10)
East Tirnor (11)
Honduras (11)
Malawi (11)
Papua N. Guinea (5+7)
Philippines ( 6+5)
Solomon Islands (10)
Venezuela (4+11)

Burundi (7)
Congo (Brazzav.) (6+6)
Cte d'Ivoire (3+3)
Djibouti ( 11)
Gambia (9)
Haiti (6+4)
Kenya (8)
Kyrgyzstan (9+4)
Lebanon (4+5)
Liberia (5+6)
Mauritania (3)
Niger (5+11)
Yemen (4+6)

Note: The number in parenthesis refers to the years the country was assessed as partially free (PF). When
there is a plus (+), it means an interruption in the continuity of assessment.
Source: Freedom House, Freedom in the World. Country Ratings 1972-2007 (www.freedomhouse.org) .

transitional cases (see Table 3.1), we can find four different situations. There
are: ( 1) countries that after years of uncertainty became democracies, such as
Brazil, Croatia, and El Salvador, which had long transitional periods, and
countries with shorter transitions, such as Guyana, Romania, and South
Africa; (2) countries where transition led to authoritarian regimes, such as
Algeria, Belarus, and Thailand; (3) countries where there is great uncertainty
because a decade has not yet elapsed, but which have a democratic legacy,
such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela; (4) countries where there was also
non-stabilization, but which have an authoritarian past.
Table 3.2 surprisingly confirms that not only can hybrid regimes stabilize as
such, but they are half (45) of the entire group (91). Here, if we distinguish
between more stabilized hybrid regimes, that is regimes that have been 'partially free' for fifteen years or more, we have twenty-six cases where at least
there has been a continual stand-offbetween veto players and democratic elites
resulting in a stalemate, where all the main actors, especially the elites, might
even find satisfactory solutions for their concerns, perhaps not ideal but
nonetheless viewed pragmatically as the best ones currently available; or
because a dominant power or even a coalition keeps the regime in an intermediate limbo; or, finally, due to the lack of any central, governing institution.

Table 3.2. Hybridregimes (1989-2010)


More persisting hybrid
regimes

Less persisting hybrid


regirnes

Hybrid regirne +
transition to
democracy

Hybrid regirne +
transition to
authoritarianism

Albania (19)

Bosnia-Herzegovina (14)

Pakistan (10)

Armenia (19)
Bangladesh ( 17)
Burkina Faso (18)
Cent. Afr. Rep (12+5)
Colombia (21 )
Cornores (20)
Ethiopia (2+ 15)
Fiji (10+10)
Gabon (19)
Georgia ( 18)
Guatemala (21)
Guinea-Bissau (19)
Jordan (20)
Kuwait (18)
Macedonia (18)
Madagascar (21)
Malaysia (21)
Meldova (19)
Morocco (21)
Mozambique (16)
Nepal (12+4)
Nicaragua (21)
Nigeria (4+ 12)
Paraguay (21)
Seychelles ( 18)
Singapore (21)
Sri Lanka (21)
Tonga (21)
Turkey (21)
Uganda (16)
Zambia (2+ 17)

Senegal (13+2)
Sierra Leone ( 12)
Tanzania (15)

Antigua &
Barbuda (13)
Lesotho (11)
Mexico (ll)
Peru (12)
Suriname (11)
Ukraine (14)

Russia (13)
Zirnbabwe (12)

,.t

Note: See Table 3.1.


Soura?: Freedom House, Freedom in the World. Country Ratings 1972-2010 (www.freedomhouse.org).

Moreover, we can immediately distinguish a second category of four slightly


less stabilized countries, at least in terms of duration until2010. But we also
have two smaller categories ofhybrid regimesOll the grounds of OUT assumptions: regimes that aft:er a long period became democracies, such as Mexico or
Peru, and regimes that became authoritarianisms, like Russia or Zimbabwe.

60

The Basics

Let's consider the possibility, however, that our assurnptions (less than ten
years is to be considered a transitional phase; a decade or more to be regarded
as a hybrid regime, and more than fifteen years as a more stabilized hybrid), as
reasonable or practical as they rnight sound, are not accepted: is one year's
difference (from 9 to 10) enough to call the first one a case oftransition and the
18
second one a hybrid regime? But, even ifwe do not make those assumptions,
two basic findings have to be accepted and are worth singling out and
emphasizing strongly: ( 1) hybrid regimes do exist, as the first colurnn of
Table 3.2 shows beyond any doubt; (2) the cases ofhybrid regimes (according
to our definition) that turn into democracies or authoritarianisms are very few
vis-a-vis the other ones: ten out of forty-five. In other words, at least the
traditional, recurrent hypothesis that once some seed of competition is installed then it is difficult to stop it and some sort of democratic arrangement
will emerge is heavily underrnined. On the contrary, uncertainty and constraints on competition (and rights) can last for decades: in the first column of
Table 3.2 there are fourteen cases out of twenty-six where the hybrid regime has
been in place for almost two decades. At this point, to try to understand the
reasons that might explain all this, we need to look more closely at those
regimes. The first important step in this direction is to develop a classification
of the thirty-five regimes present in the first two columns of Table 3.2.

3.4 WHAT KIND OF CLASSIFICATION?

On the basis of the previous definition, then, a crucial aspect of hybrid


regimes is the break-up of the limited pluralism or the introduction of
lirnitations on an open, competitive pluralism where previously there had
been at least a minimal democracy; or the proionging of a situation of
uncertainty when the country in question gairis independence but does not
have, or is unable to establish, its own autonomaus institutions (authoritarian or democratic), and cannot revert to traditional institutions, which have
either disappeared or have been completely delegitimized. In all these hypotheses there may be (or there may emerge) veto players, that is, individual
or collective actors who are influential or decisive in maintainirig the regime
in its characteristic state of ambiguity and uncertainty. These actors may be:
an external, foreign power that interferes in the politics of the nation; a
monarch or authoritarian ruler who has come to power with more or less
violent means; the armed forces; a hegemonic party run by a small group or a
single leader; religious hierarchies; econornic oligarchies; other powerful
groups, or a mixture of such actors, who, however, are either unable or

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

61

unwilling to elimiriate other pro-democratic actors, assumirig that in the


majority of current hybrid regimes the alternative is between democracy
19
and non- democracy.
In the face of this variety in the origin and ambiguity of internal structures,
four possible directions can be taken to understand what effectively distinguishes these regimes: the drawing up of a classification based on the legacy of
the previous regime; scrutiny of the processes of change .undergone by the
nations in question and the consequences for the institutional set-up that
emerges; a third line which, rather more 'sirnply', considers the result, that is,
the distinguishing characteristics at a given point in time-for example, in
2007-of those nations that fall withiri the genus of hybrid regimes; and a
fourth possibility, where the key classificatory criterion is given by the constraints that prevented a country from becoming at least a minimal democracy. The objectives of the first possible classification would be more explicitly
explanatory, focusing on the resistance of institutions to change; the second,
though this too would have explicative ends, would be more attentive to how
modes of change themselves help to define what kind of hybrid regime one is
up against; the third would be chiefly descriptive, and would start from the
results, that is, from the characteristic traits of the regime; the fourth, which
has explicative goals, would focus on the reasons that prevent the transformation towards a democracy. But before going any further, it is essential to
consider how the issue has b~n tackled by other authors in the past.
Without makirig any daim to beirig exhaustive, one might start by citing
the simplest solution, proposed by Freedom Hause, which took the third
approach mentioned above. Using its own data, it broke down the ensemble
of nations defined as 'partially free' into serni-consolidated democracies,
transitional or hybrid regimes in the strict sense, and semi-consolidated
authoritarian regimes. The firsttype comprises regimes with an average rating
between 3.00 and 3.99, the second has an averagetotal between 4.00 and 4.99
while the third is between 5.00 and 5.99 (see Table 3.1). Merkel (2004) also
proposes an interesting classification of'defective democracies'. This category
can be divided irito 'exclusive democracies', which offer only limited guarantees with regard to political rights; 'domain democracies', iri which powerful
groups condition and limit the autonomy of elected leaders; and 'illiberal
democracies', which only provide partial civil rights guarantees. Finally,
Diamond (2002), who starts from the more general notion of the hybrid
regime as has been .clone here, 20 proposes four categories on the basis of the
degree of existing competition: hegemonic electoral authoritarian, competitive authoritarian, electoral democracy (see above), and a residual category of
ambiguous regimes. The regimes in three out of these four categories fail to
provide the rninimurn guarantee of civil rights that would qualify them to be

62

The Basics

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

63

21

dassified as an electoral democracy. Starting from the elementary fact that


hybrid regimes no Ionger have some of the essential as~ec_ts of th~ nondemocratic genus, but still do not have all the charactenstlcs reqmred to
meet the minimum definition of democracy, Morlino (2003: 45) formulated
another dassification of hybrid regimes. First and foremost, if limits are
placed by specific actors on people's effective freedom to vote or even on
the admission of dissent and opposition, and on the correct handling of the
elections themselves, one can talk of a protected democracy. By this term it is
understood that inside the regime being analysed-defined by Merkel (2004:
49) as a 'domain democracy'-there are powerful veto players, such as the
army, strong economic oligarchies, traditional powers like the monarch, or
even forces ex:ternal to the country, which heavily condition the regime.
Moreover, there is a limited democracy when there is universal suffrage, a
formally correct electoral procedure, elective posts occupied on the basis of
elections, and a multi-party system, but civil rights are constrained by the
police or other effective forms of suppression. Consequently, there is no
effective political opposition and, above all, the media are compromised by
a situation of monopoly to the point that part of the population is effectively
prevented from exercising their rights. The notion of the 'illiberal democracy'
advanced by Merkel (2004) coincides with that of the limited democracy as
presented here. The notion of 'limited democracy' is also weil developed by
Wigell (2008) within a typologywhich still includes the 'electoral democracy'
and the 'constitutional democracy' as sub-types of democracy, complemented
by the 'liberal democracy' as the type of fully fledged democratic set-up. 22 The
main di:fference between the different proposals lies in the fact that, while also
having explanatory objectives, the authors point to different factors as the
crucial elements for explaining the real nature of these regimes.
Without going on to review the literature in detail, it is better to stop here
and to take stock of the more convincing solutions. From this perspective a
combination of the first direction, i.e. focusing on the legacy of the previous
regime, and the fourth one, i.e. constraints that restrained a country from
becoming or being a minimal democracy, seems to provide a more effective
typology. Thus, if the criterion of classification concerns the reasons that
prevent the transformation towards a democracy and the first hypothesis of
institutional inertia is assumed in its entirety, what was proposed above can
be reformulated more clearly: the types of hybrid regimes that might come
into being depend directly on the typologies of authoritarian regimes and
democracies that have already been established by focusing on the factors that
prevent democratic change. As evidenced in Figure 3.1, the core assumption
of this possible typology is that traditional and democratic regimes can, by
virtue of their characteristics, give rise to different results, while it is more

traditionallpersonal regime

roilitary authoritarianisrn
protected dernocracy
civil-roilitary authoritarianisrn

limited dernocracy

dernocracy without state

Figure 3.1. What kind ofhybrid regime?

likely that the survival of authoritarian veto players points towards a single
solution, that of protected democracies. In any case, the elaboration of this
classification or typology leads us to propose three possible classes: the
protected democracy and the limited democracy, which have already been
described above; and a third, logically necessary one in which it is hypothesized that there are no relevantlegacies or powerful veto players, nor are there
any forms of state suppression or non-guarantee of rights, but simply a
situation of widespread illegality in which the state is incapable of performing
properly due to poorly functioning institutions. This third dass can be
defined as 'democracy without law' or rather, democracy without state, as
the state can be conceived as a government based on the primacy of the law
and organized as a hierarchic system of roles defined by laws.
The second perspective, i.e. the focus on processes of change undergone by
a country and the consequences for the institutional set-up that emerges, may
be complementary to the first one. If the contex:t is one of regime change and
there is a hybrid resulting from a process of transition during which the
characteristics of the previous regime have disappeared ( as mentioned above ),
starting with the break-up oflimited pluralism (the hypothesis here is obviously that of a transition from authoritarianism), it is necessary to see what
process of change has started and how, in order to assess and predict its future
course. The advantage of this classificatory perspective is that, given that the
regimes in question are undergoing transformation, the direction and possible outcomes of such change can be seen more clearly. So, if there is liberalization, without or with little resort to violence, that is, a process of granting
more political and civil rights from above, never very extensive or complete,

The Basics

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

but so as to enable the controlled organization of society at both the elite and
mass level, what one has is an institutional hybrid that should permit an
'opening up' of the authoritarian regime, extending the social support base
and at the same time saving the goveming groups or leaders already in power.
The most probable result, then, would be a hybrid that can be defined as a
protected democracy, capable, moreover, of lasting for a considerable or very
long time. In order to have some probability of persistence, such a political
hybrid must be able to rely not only on the support of the institutional elites,
both political and social, but also on the maintenance of a limited mass
parti~ipation (in other words, on the goveming elite's capacity to repress or
dissuade participation) and on the limited attraction of the democratic model
in the political culture of the country, especially amongst the elites. Another
possibility is the occurrence of a rupture of authoritarianism as a result of a
grassroots mobilization of groups in society or of the armed forces, or due to
foreign intervention. If it proves impossible to move towards a democratic
situation, even if only slowly, due to the presence of anti-democratic veto
players, then a more or less enduring situation characterized by a lack of the
guarantees regarding order and basic rights to be found in a limited democracy becomes a concrete outcome. In this dynamic perspective, the third
solution, that of the democracy without state, does not even entail liberalization or the break-up of limited pluralism as such, in that there is no
previously existing stable regime or working state institutions.
However, these modes of classification are a priori and do not include an
empirical survey of the countries defined as hybrid regimes. In this respect
they still fail to carry out one of the principal tasks of any good classification,
which is to examine all the empirical phenomena associated with hybrid
regimes and then arrive at some form of simplification that makes it possible
to grasp the phenomenon as a whole as weil as its intemal differences. So do
the three classificatory types outlined above hold up when empirical cases are
considered? Looking at the Freedom House data and assuming that the
regimes regarded as 'partially free' coincide with the notion of the hybrid
regime developed here, there seems to be a need for some revision and
integration. Above all, it is worth -examining in greater detail the ratings of
the countries belonging to the category of hybrid regimes (Table 3.2) on the
set of indicators relating to seven ambits that are important when analysing
any political regime, democratic or otherwise: rule of law, electoral process,
functioning of government, political pluralism and participation, freedom of
expression and beliefs, freedom of association and organization, personal
autonomy and individual freedom. 23 If those ambits are matched with the
elements that appear in the definition of the hybrid regime suggested above,
the connections can be immediately grasped: all aspects of minimal

democracy as weil as the elements that are present in the definition of


authoritarianism, such as limited pluralism and participation (to mention
just the most salient ones), areprima facie closely related to all seven ambits.
In his discussion ofhow to map political regimes, Wigell (2008: 237-41) also
refers to the same or similar aspects. 24 Levitsky and Way (2002: 54-8) prefer
to group the aspects around four arenas of contestation (electoral arena,
legislative arena, judicial arena, media). This, in fact, is correct, as research
on democratic transition has shown that these four arenas frequently prove to
be the most important ones. 25 However, a more detailed and precise set of
indicator:;, those suggested by Freedom House, seems in this case to be more
appropriate for analysing the various key aspects ofhybrid regimes, where the
opposite process (from democracy towards authoritarianism) has to be
included, whether or not there is the stabilization stressed above.
On the basis of the profiles for the thirty-five cases ofhybrid regimes, a great
variety of situations emerge. Thus, when a first implementation of a fuzzy set
analysis is applied, that is a QCA (Qualitative Comparative Analysis) method
as elaborated by Ragin (2000, 2008: esp. eh. 4), the reduction ofthetruth table,
built up from the seven different variables, leads to seventeen different possible
categories, with some of them including just one case. In other words, there are
too many classes containing too few cases for meaningful classification.26 One
way of reducing the number of categories is to see if, when applied to the cases
t
undemeath the seven groups of indicators, some key conceptual elements
emerge from the seven original variables. A factor analysis may help in singling
out those elements. In fact, when applied to our thirty-five cases the result is
very revealing. As displayed in Table 3.3, three components emerge with great

64

65

Table 3.3. The three components of hybrid regimes


Variable

Cornponents
2

Rule oflaw
Electoral process
GovernrnentfUnctioning
Pluralisrn and participation
Freedorn of expression & beliefs
Freedorn of association & organization
Personal autonorny and individual freedorn
Notes: Percentage of explained variance: 80.623%.
Method of extraction: Principal Component Analysis.
Method of rotation: Varirnax with Kaiser normalization.
Only factor loadings > 0.5 represented.

0.856
0.835
0.818
0.862
0.713
0.865
0.858

66

The Basics

clarity: a first component where electoral process, political pluralism and


participation, freedom of expression and beliefs, freedom of association and
organization are grouped together closely; a second component where rule of
law and personal autonomy and individual freedoms are also strongly
connected; and a third component, conceptually dose to the second one,
where state functioning stands alone. When considered in its entirety, the
lack or the high weakness of the first component can be considered a key aspect
of limited democracies while the lack or weakness of the second component can
be regarded as a key element of democracies without law, and the lack or
wea.klless of the third component the result of inefficient democracy. 27 If we
consider that the second and third components are conceptually contiguous
(see above), we can group them in just one category that could be labelledas
democracies without state. But whether this is a good step to take or not must be
decided by the empirical control.
With these fairly precise indications we can go back to the QCA method. In
particular, profiting from the strong correlations that emerged from our
previous principal component analysis, we can build a truth table where: (a)
the lack or high weakness (O) of a new component with the four sets of
indicators, that is, absence/weakness of electoral process and/or political
pluralism and participation and/or freedom of expression and beliefs and/or
freedom of association and organization, shape a limited democracy; (b) the
lack or high weakness (0) of a new component with the two sets of indicators,
that is absence/weakness of rule of law and/or personal autonomy and individual freedoms, depicts a democracy without law; (c) the lack or high weakness
(0) of a component with one set of indicators, that is absence/weakness of state
functioning, depicts an inefficient democracy. 28 When the related truth table
is applied, 29 the results are very meaningful and empirically relevant (see
Table 3.4). First of all, there are several cases with at least a weak presence of
all three components or characteristics. Evidently, in the light of these new
results a new category or dass is required, which can be labelled quasidemocracies. Out of the fifteen cases of quasi-democracies, si:x: are European,
five African, and only three Asian, with one additional case in Latin America
(Colombia). There is also a sizeable group of limited democracies, as expected,
and half of them are African. Third, because of the conceptual contiguity and
lirnited presence of real cases (only Armenia and Morocco ), the dass of
inefficient democracies can be merged with the democracy without law into
a new more effective democracies without state with ten cases; most of these
(seven) are from Africa.

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

67

Table 3.4. Classification and cases ofhybrid regimes (2010)


Categories

Countries

Quasi-democracies
Albania
Bosnia-Herzegovilla
Colombia
Georgia
Macedonia
Madagascar
Malaysia
Moldova
Mozambique
Seychelles
Singapore
Sri Lanka
Tanzania
Turkey
Zambia

Limited democracies

Demceraeies without state

Banglac:1esh
Cornoras
Fiji
Guatemala
Guinea-Bissau
Jordan
Nicaragua
Paraguay
Sierra Leone
Tonga

Armenia
Burkina Faso
Central African Rep.
Ethiopia
Gabon
Kuwait
Morocco
Nepal
Nigeria
Uganda

3.5 WHERE TOGO FROM HERE

The analysis above ended up PJOving in a different direction to the one


considered in recent literature,' a direction that is more consistent with the
one followed by an older, traditionalliterature that appeared in the 1950s
where the stress was on instability. The debate on democratization led to
neglect of this aspect, even though it is highly evident at an empiricallevel: the
most significant problern in terms of specific cases is to ensure the existence of
institutions more or less capable of performing their functions. Hence, one
of the most relevant results of our analysis is that there are countries where
a strengthening of the state and an effective guarantee of rights would
transform several regimes into democracies. As far as the problern of state
functioning and the rule of law are concemed, this theme has already been
discussed by other authors, for instance Fukuyama (2004), and is still a central
issue that deserves attention.
Moreover, there are a number of more specific conclusions. First, although
literatme to date has failed to be precise on this and there are only a few case
studies, some comparative analyses and good insights, on the grounds of our
analysis we can conclude that hJ;brid regirnes are a substantial reality and can be
considered an autonomaus model of regime vis-a-vis democracy, authoritafianism, and the traditional regime. Second, in view ofthe absence of a good adequate
definition ofthat regirne, we proposed a new definition, which takes account of

The Basics

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

the semantic field, that is, the notions of democracy, authoritarianism, and the
traditional regime. Third, once we went from an a priori classification, grounded
on the criterion of the constraints to an effective minimal democracy, to an
empirical one, a few changes and adaptations proved necessary.
On the whole, even if different trajectories are theoretically relevant (see
also Figure 3.1), most ofthe cases that might be considered as hybrid regimes
have either an authoritarian past or a traditional one. Moreover, because of
the data we had, the dass of protected democracies did not emerge. But, for
example, in cases such as Jordan and Morocco, which we would have unquestio~ably Iahelied as such because of the strong political role of a traditional
power like that of the monarchy, our empirical analysis suggests that the
inefficiency of the state (Morocco) or the limited guarantee of rights (Jordan)
is more relevant. As regards this, the data and a different theoretical emphasis
account for an unexpected result. In fact, the data clearly suggest that what
counts in hybrid regimes is not so much the existence of a legacy or of veto
players, but a lack of state or the effective guarantee of basic rights.
The quasi-democracies are a more relevant dass than expected, with fifteen
cases, and this is perhaps grounds for optimism in terms of the future
possibility of change towards democracy. In particular, in an international
context characterized by cooperation rather than high conflict, a stronger role
of international actors or of democratic governments is possible and seems to
have some chance of success in a democratic perspective. 30
Limited democracies and democracies without state are confirmed as empirically relevant classes for which different, contrasting elements need to be
stressed: on the one hand, the lack of an effective guarantee of rights despite
the presence of state institutions and, on the other hand, the lack of the rule of
law and of a functioning state, with laws that are not applied because the
judiciary has no effective independence, there is widespread corruption, and
the bureaucracy is tlawed and inefficient. In these cases too, governments and
international organizations have a potentially strong role to play in helping to
strengthen the respect of rights and building state institutions, prior even to
establishing democracies, in countriesthat have manifested a strong incapacity in this respect over the years. 31
There is a final important question that is still unanswered: What is the last
step? More explicitly, even if we accept that the threshold from hybrid regime
and minimalist democracy can be crossed in both directions, what should we
consider the additional change, i.e. the 'last step', for a regime or also for
transitional context to be considered a minimalist democracy? The minimalist definition of democracy, recalled at the beginning of this chapter-and
discussed in the previous one-complemented by the result of the empirical
dassification show the existence of three patterns with regards to the last step,

and a11 of them when not immediately taken, difficult to emerge in a situation
of stalemate. The first pattern, development of civil and political rights, is the
one requested in case oflimited democracy; the second one, building of rule of
law, is what the transition to a minimal democracy would entail in a democracy without state; the third mixed pattern, growth of right and rule of law,
clearly concerns the possibility of transitions for the quasi-democracies.
However, every pattern can be additionally and more ptecisely developed
only by following the specific directions the empirical analysis of each case
points to. Thus there is no possibility of finding a 'recipe' to be applied in
different cases: there is no set of recommendations that 'fits all'. Two final
considerations on this may be helpful. Although we are not going to develop
the point, it seems evident that this analysis can have policy recommendations. That is, at least in an abstract way the classification of each country in
the tables above, the consequent pattern, and the additional specific recommendations can show specific strategies of transitions. Second, although this
analysis is limited to hybrid regimes, patterns of such a kind can be traced in
the transitional processes, that is, also in the cases where a country is not stuck
into some dass of hybridism, but follows a path of change.
This last consideration brings us to the second and third parts of the book,
where the broader processes of change, i.e. transition and installation of
democracy, consolidation and crisis, qualities deepening or worsening, and
the related sub-processes willbe considered in terms of actor/structure led
change, multi-levellegitimation, domestic and external anchorings, and procedures, contents, and results in democratic deepening.

68

69

Notes
1. See also Collier and Levitsky (1997: 440), where there is an exhaustive Iist of

'dirninished sub-types', i.e. hybrid regirnes, that are present in the Iiterature on
the topic. I'm not taking into consideration here the issue of fragile and failed
states. This would open a largely different set of problems that are not the object of
the analysis here.
2. See below for more on the meaning of the terms as used here.
3. The main criticisms concerned the right-wing liberal bias of the Institute itself and
consequently the compiling of unfair ratings for the assessed countries. Although
basically appropriate at the beginning, these criticisms have been overcome and
neutralized by subsequent de},'elopments characterized by more reliable emJ?irical
results. This relevant conclusion is strongly supported by the high number of
quotations and attention that Freedom House data have received in recent years.
Even a quick look on the Internet will vividly show all this.

The Basics

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

4. Even some of the most interesting data, such as those of the Index ofFailed States
(see www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3865) or of Polity N (see
www.systemicpeace.org/polity/polity4.htm) were discarded in favour ofFreedom
House data for the reasons mentioned in the text.
5. See below for a necessary and more specific definition.
6. It should be remernbered that Freedom House adopts a reverse points system: a
score of 1 corresponds to the greatest degree of democracy in terms of political
rights and civil liberties, while 7 corresponds to the most repressive forms of
authoritarianism as regards rights and freedom. The electoral democracies need
. to be distinguished amongst these. For more on the definition thereof, see below.
7. As is known, about half of this population lives in a single nation, China.
8. The inclusion ofTurkey in this group of countries has already prompted debate,
and other analysts, especially Turkish scholars, place it amongst the minimal
democracies, stressing the great and now long-standing fairness of the electoral
procedure, for which Freedom House does not award the maximum rating.
9. Other terms, such as 'mixed regimes', arealso very broad, but ultimately 'hybrid'
was preferred to 'mixed' as the former term gives more precisely the gist of the
phenomenon where new and old aspects change each other, that is, it is not just a
problern of'mixing' (see below for the definition and classification).
10. A more complex definition is offered by O'Donnell (2004: 15), who suggests
considering the patterns, explicit or otherwise, that determine the channels of
access to the main government positions, the characteristics of the actors who are
admitted or excluded from such access, and the resources or strategies that they
can use to gain access. An empirically simpler line is adopted here, which is based
on the old definition by Easton (1965). But seealso Fishman (1990).
11. He also adds that a state is a 'more permanent structure of domination and
coordination' than a regime (Fishman 1990: 428). But on this see below.
12. The other specific components ofliberal democracies are delineated by Diamond
(1999: 11-12).
13. The three indicators pertaining to the electoral process are: (1) head of government and principal posts elected with free and fair elections; (2) parliaments
elected with free and fair elections; (3) electorallaws and other significant norms,
applied correctly (see the website ofFreedom House).
14. These values include notions like homeland, nation, order, hierarchy, authority,
and such like, where both traditional and modernizing positions can, and sometimes have, found common ground. In any case, the regime is not supported by
any complex, articulated ideological elaboration. In other regimes, like the traditional ones, the only effective justification of the regime is personal in nature, that
is, to serve a certain leader, who may, in the case of a monarch who has acceded to
power on a hereditary basis, be backed by tradition.
15. For another analysis of non-democratic regimes, especially authoritarian ones,
see Brooker (2000).

16. Despite her empirical focus on Centtal America the analysis by Karl (1995) is also
useful to betterunderstand the conditions and perspectives ofhybrid regimes in
other ateas.
17. As mentioned above, many years ago Finer (1970: 441-531) seemed to have
detected the existence of hybrid regimes when he analysed 'fac;:ade democracies'
and 'quasi-democracies'. Looking more closely at these two models, however, it is
clear that the former can be tied in with the category of traditional regimes, while
the latter falls within the broader authoritarian genus. In fact; typical examples of
'quasi-democracies' are considered to be Mexico, obviously prior to 1976, and
certain African nations with a one-party system. A third notion, that of the
'pseudo-democracy', refers not to a hybrid regime, but to instances of authoritarian regimes with certain exterior forms of the democratic regime, such as constitutions claiming to guarantee rights and free elections but which do not reflect
an even partially democratic state of affairs. There is, then, no genuine respect for
civil and political rights, and consequently no form of political competition either.
18. On the whole, we stillthinkthat those hypotheses are reasonable and practical for
our purposes. Above all, they are obligatory when trying to make better sense of
the set of cases with which we are dealing.
19. For a more in-depth discussion of veto players in hybrid regimes and in the
democratization process, see Morlino and Magen (2008a, 2008b).
20. Such a regime combines 'democratic and authoritarian elements' (Diamond
2002: 23).
21. It should be noted that Diamond uses the term 'electoral democracy' with a
different meaning to that of ~{eedom House, as has already been clarified above.
For Diamond 'electoral democracy' and 'liberal democracy' are two different
categories, while for Freedom House all liberal democracies are also electoral,
but not vice versa. So, for example, according to Freedom House a nation like the
United Kingdom is a liberal democracy, but is also electoral, while for Diamond it
is not.
22. To build his typology Wigell (2008) develops the two well-known Dahlian criteria
(participation and competition/opposition) (Dahl 1971) into the notions of
'electoralism' and 'constitutionalism' seen at limited and at effective stages. If
there is a limited development then there are minimal electoral conditions, such
as free, fair, competitive, inclusive elections; and/or minimal constitutional conditions, such as freedom of organization, expression, alternative information, and
freedom from discrimination. If there is more effective development, then there
are additional electoral conditions, such as electoral empowerment, electoral
integrity, electoral sovereignty, electoral irreversibility, and/or additional constitutional conditions, such as executive accountability, legal accountability, bureaucratic integrity, local government accountability. The result is a four-cell matrix
with liberal democracy in the case of effective electoralism and effective copstitutionalism; limited democracy in the case of limited, minimal electoralism and
limited, minimal constitutionalism; electoral democracy in the case of minimal

70

71

72

Are There Hybrid Regimes?

The Basics

constitutionalism and effective electoralism; and constitutional democracy in the


case of limited electoralism and effective constitutionalism.
23. The macro-indicators for each ambit are, for the rule of law: (1) independent
judiciary; (2) application of civil and penallaw and civilian control of the police;
(3) protection of personal freedom, including that of opponents, and absence of
wars and revolts (civil order); (4) law equal for everyone, including the application thereof; for the electoral process: (1) head of government and principal posts
elected with free and fair elections; (2) parliaments elected with free and fair
elections; (3) existence of electoral laws and other significant norms, applied
correctly; for government functioning. (1) government policies decided by the
head ofthe government and elected parliamentarians; (2) government free from
widespread corruption; (3) responsible government that acts openly; for political
pluralism and participation: (1) right to organize different parties and the existence of a competitive party system; (2) existence of an opposition and of the
concrete possibility for the opposition to build support and win power through
elections; (3) freedom from the influence of the armed forces, foreign powers,
totalitarian parties, religious hierarchies, economic oligarchies, or other powerful
groups; (4) protection of cultural, ethnic, religious, and other minorities; for
freedom of expression and beliefs: (1) free media and freedom of other forms of
expression; (2) religious freedom; (3) freedom to teach and an educational system
free from widespread indoctrination; (4) freedom of speech; for freedom of
association and organization: (1) guarantee of the rights of free speech, assembly,
and demonstration; (2) freedom for non-governmental organizations; (3) freedom to form unions, conduct collective bargaining, and form professional bodies; for personal autonomy and individual freedoms: (1) absence of state control on
travel, residence, occupation, and higher education; (2) right to 0\<\>11 property and
freedom to establish businesses without improper conditioning by the government, security forces, parties, criminal organizations; (3) social freedom, such as
gender equality, freedom to marry, and freedom regarding family size (government control ofbirths); (4) freedom of opportunity and absence of economic
exploitation (see the website ofFreedom House).lt should be bornein mind that
the rating system here is the 'obvious' one, i.e. a higher score corresponds to the
higher presence of the aspect in question, up to 4 points per general indicator.
The maxirnum score for the rule oflaw is 16, while for electoral process it is 12,
and so on.
24. More precisely, Wigell (2008: 237-41) includes in his list the minimal electoral
conditions (free, fair, competitive, inclusive elections), minimal constitutional
conditions (freedom of organization, expression, right to alternative information,
and freedom from discrimination), additional electoral conditions ( electoral
empowerment, integrity, sovereignty, irreversibility), and additional constitutional conditions (executive, legal, local government accountabilities, bureaucratic integrity). But here, in the perspective of hybrid regimes only the
minimal electoral and constitutional conditions are relevant.

s.

73

For example, as regards the salience of the judicial arena, see Morlino and Magen

(2008b).
6. Piease riote that while the main purpose of such a method is explanatory, it is used
2
here to provide a better classification of my cases. It is worth recalling, however,
the existing connection between explanation and a good classification, although
this cannot be discussed here.
27. For details of the indicators see above, n. 23.
28. All the truth tables are available upon request.
29. Please note that because of the strong correlations the specific group of variables
(i.e. (1) electoral process + political pluralism and participation + freedom of
expression and beliefs + freedom of association and organization; (2) rule oflaw
and personal autonomy and individual freedoms) have been combined on the
basis of the rule of sufficiency, that is, the existence of one component is sufficient
to represent the dass.
30. On this point, see also the results of research on the role of international actors
in the democratization processes in a number of Europe's neighbour nations
(Morlino and Magen 2008b).
31. Please note that the role of the lOs can be double-faced, and sometimes vague and
slippery. They can recognize as interlocutor a corrupted government.

;'~

"