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Parties, Civil Society, and the Deterrence of Democratic Defection

Journal article
Authors M. Bernhard
A. Hicken
C. Reenock
Staffan I. Lindberg
Published in Studies in Comparative International Development
ISSN 0039-3606
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Political Science
V-Dem Institute
Language en
Keywords Democratic breakdown, Civil society, Political parties, Accountability, Autocratization, accountability, institutionalization, consolidation, unpacking, politics, hungary, Development Studies, International Relations, Government & Law
Subject categories Law and Society, Political Science


The third wave of democratization has given way to a reverse wave of autocratization. A critical question is what can be done to prevent democratic breakdowns and make democracy endure. A large body of historical-narrative and small-N comparative scholarship has suggested that an active mobilized civil society and institutionalized political parties can be mobilized to protect democracy from authoritarian takeovers. We provide the first rigorous set of empirical analyses to test this argument using data from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project for the period from 1900 to 2010. We find that both exert a robust, independent, and substantial effect on the survival of democracies. These findings have important policy implications for the international community.

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