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  • Author: Magnus Rasmussen, Carl Henrik Knutsen
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: We propose that the extent to which political parties are institutionalized shapes welfare state development. Institutionalized parties allow politicians to overcome coordination problems, avoid capture by special interests, and form stable linkages with broad social groups. These features both enable and incentivize politicians to pursue generous and universal welfare policies. Employing recent measures of party institutionalization and welfare law features, we test implications from our argument on data covering 169 countries and extending back to 1900. Even when accounting for country- and year-fixed effects and institutional features such as electoral system, regime type and state capacity, we find robust evidence that party institutionalization leads to more extensive, universal, and generous welfare arrangements. The relationship is more pronounced in democracies, but exists also in autocracies. When disaggregating party institutionalization and evaluating mechanisms, the linkages that institutionalized parties form with social groups constitute one important, but not the only relevant, factor.
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Simone Schotte
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Beyond the hopes placed in Africa’s emergent middle class as an engine of economic growth, some analysts see this group as a bastion of political stability and enduring democratisation across the continent. This paper’s approach differs from that of most studies, which treat the middle class as a homogeneous group, through two key contributions. First, using cluster analysis, I propose a novel way of conceptualising social class that broadly draws on the Weberian idea of shared life chances. I apply this method to South Africa and identify five social classes characterised by their members’ living standards, overall life satisfaction, and self‐perceived upward mobility. Second, the empirical analysis reveals significant discrepancies in attitudes towards democracy between the downwardly and upwardly mobile strata of the middle class, which I term the “anxious” and the “climbers,” respectively. On the one hand, the “climbers” show the highest generic support for democracy as a form of government, whereas the “anxious” middle class displays feelings of resignation. On the other hand, I find indicative evidence of a status‐quo bias among the “climbers.” Rather than assuming a more demanding or critical stance in politics, they allow their political priorities to be at least partly shaped by an interest in securing and expanding attained living standards; being upwardly mobile is even associated with a higher tolerance for government attempts to constrain freedom of information, opinion, or expression.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mathew Singer
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Theories of democratic legitimacy argue that people who believe that the government is well managed and that the government represents their interests are likely to defend the democratic status quo. Principal-agent theory predicts, however, that these same groups are also more likely to support the executive taking steps to restrict free speech or opposition rights via delegative democracy. Citizens who feel represented by an ideologically sympathetic and competent executive may be willing to delegate to him or her authority to restrict the opposition, even at the expense of civil rights. Survey data from eighteen Latin American countries from 2006 to 2012 are consistent with the principal-agent hypothesis; those who voted for the ruling party in the previous election or who perceive that the economy is strong are more likely to favor restrictions on civil rights for regime opponents. Political winners are particularly likely to display low levels of tolerance for expressions of opposition in polarized party systems. Thus, for democracy to prosper, it must not only satisfy the losers of political and economic processes but also find ways to encourage winners to exercise restraint.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Frida Boräng, Sverker Jagers, Marina Povitkina
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute. University of Gothenburg.
  • Abstract: One of the central questions in research on the drivers behind public good provision is how political regimes and institutions impact the provision of public goods. Previous research within this field has shown that democratic history is positively related to public good provision, including the universal provision of reliable electricity. In this paper, we elaborate on these findings by investigat ing how corruption interacts with democratic history in shaping electricity provision. It is argued that since corruption can shape the implementation process of public policies as well as the policy choices, high levels of corruption are likely to limit the positive effect of democratic experience. Following Min (2015), we measure electricity provision by the share of population living in unlit areas. We find that democratic history leads to higher electrification rates only when corruption is relatively low. In high-corrupt contexts, however, the positive effect of democratic history is absent.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democracy, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Bo Rothstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute. University of Gothenburg.
  • Abstract: The following arguments are presented. 1) Corruption in its various forms is a serious social ill. 2) Democracy is not a safe cure against corruption. 3) Increased gender equality seems to be one important factor behind getting corruption under control. 4) Impartiality in the exercise of public power, not least, when it “translates” into meritocratic recruitment and promotion in the public administration, has a powerful effect on lowering corruption. 5) While some aspects of impartiality are central for gender equality, research results are mixed. Some show that impartial principles promotes gender equality, others show that gender bias exists also in many processes designed to be impartial. Going from these results to policy recommendation is thus fraught with many difficulties. One is how to handle problems of legitimacy in the implementation process for various forms of preferential treatment of discriminated groups. Since these problems are impossible to handle, we may be in for a “Churchillian” argument. Like representative democracy, meritocracy may be a far from ideal solution for lowering corruption and thereby promoting human well-being, but it may be the least bad of existing alternatives.
  • Topic: Corruption, Gender Issues, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Bernhard, Amanda B Edgell, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: While it is clear that contemporary authoritarian incumbents use democratic emulation as a strategy in the hopes of stabilizing and extending their tenure in power, this does not mean it is always effective. Indeed, an extant literature presents strong evidence that the opening of the pursuit of power to electoral competition can make authoritarianism vulnerable. Unless it is mediated by other factors, democratic emulation by authoritarian incumbents cannot simultaneously both stabilize their rule and make it more vulnerable to democratic transitions. These two literatures leave us with a set of contradictory generalizations. Some scholars argue that reiterated multiparty competitive elections present a gradual path from authoritarianism to democracy. Can they at the same time be a source of authoritarian stability? In this paper we seek to resolve this paradox by employing a unique combination of event history modeling to assess how experiences with multiparty elections influence patterns of authoritarian survival and transition in 108 countries from 1946-2010. Our results suggest that while authoritarian regimes face increasing odds of failure during the first three iterated multiparty and competitive election cycles, subsequent iterated cycles are far less dangerous to their survival. Given that few authoritarian regimes survive past three elections, these findings should be seen as more supportive of the democratization by elections thesis than democratic emulation as a way to enhance authoritarian survival.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tove Ahlbom, Marina Povitkina
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Natural disasters cause suffering for millions of people around the globe every year and as climate change unfolds the likelihood of natural catastrophes is increasing. While weather shocks, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods are beyond our control, a governments’ capacity to protect populations largely determines the degree of human suffering in disasters. Democracies, with freedom of speech, broad public participation and representation, are believed to protect their populations better than non-democratic regimes. However, democratic institutions are insufficient for securing protection from disasters in contexts of corruption, poor planning and public administration incompetence. We argue that the effect of democracy on the extent of human suffering in disasters is contingent on the ability of governments to implement their tasks or the quality of implementing institutions. We test this interaction hypothesis using time series cross-sectional data from the Varieties of Democracy project, the Quality of Government dataset and data from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. The results show that more democracy is associated with fewer people being affected by natural disasters only in settings where institutional quality is high. When institutional quality is low, more people seem to suffer in democracies than in authoritarian states.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Suthan Krishnarajan, Jørgen Møller, Lasse Lykke Rørbæk, Svend-Erik Skaaning
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: An influential body of scholarship has associated both democracy and democratization with civil war. Important findings include the so-called inverted U-shaped relationship between democracy-levels and civil war onset and that propensity for democratic openings to spark internal violence. However, most of these findings have been challenged, particularly by scholars pointing to problems with the aggregate nature of the analyses and the data sources used. Against this background, we enlist new, fine-grained data from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project. We discuss how the new data can be used to disaggregate regime variables in order to better understand the causal dynamics that link the regime form and regime change to civil war onset, if any. Guided by these considerations, we use the new data to reassess the ‘inverted U-curve’. Our analysis shows that this relationship is driven by ‘liberal’ aspects of democracy such as freedom of assembly and freedom of speech rather than by the ‘electoral core’ of democracy. The relationship between clean elections and civil war onset is approximately linearly decreasing, and at the indicator level of the clean elections attribute we find several different patterns.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Patrik Lindenfors, Joshua Krusell, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: This paper presents a new method inspired by evolutionary biology for analyzing longer sequences of requisites for the emergence of particular outcome variables across numerous combinations of ordinal variables in social science analysis. The approach involves repeated pairwise investigations of states in a set of variables and identifying what states in the variables that occur before states in all other variables. We illustrate the proposed method by analyzing a set of variables from version 6 of the V-Dem dataset (Coppedge et al. 2015a, b). With a large set of indicators measured over many years, the method makes it possible to explore long, complex sequences across many variables in quantitative datasets. This affords an opportunity, for example, to disentangle the sequential requisites of failing and successful sequences in democratization. For policy purposes this is instrumental: Which components of democracy are most exogenous and least endogenous and therefore the ideal targets for democracy promotion at different stages?
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Rachel Sigman, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: One of the most common adjectives used to describe democracy in sub-Saharan Africa is "neopatrimonial". Characterized by strong executives, pervasive clientelism and use of state resources for political legitimation (Bratton and van de Walle 1997), neopatrimonial democracy has been (controversially) associated with a range of (mostly undesirable) social, political and economic outcomes. This paper offers an empirical assessment of neopatrimonialism in Africa's political regimes. We show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, African regimes vary both quantitatively and qualitatively in their embodiment of neopatrimonial rule. Moreover, we find no clear evidence indicating that neopatrimonialism necessarily impedes the advancement or survival of democracy
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus