Learning to Consolidate Democracy


Can actors learn to consolidate democracy? In this paper, we begin to address this ques- tion by comparing how actors in different contexts bargained during crises so that we may see whether or not they learned to resolve crises and reinforce democracy. We investigate actors’ behavior in five types of countries: stable democracies (Italy and India), transi- tions to democracy (Mali and Portugal), unstable countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, and the Philippines), transitions to autocracy (Indonesia and Myanmar), and stable autocracies (Ivory Coast and Zaire). Within these twelve countries, we identify forty-two political crises that occurred between 1950 and 1999. We construct a bargaining model designed to cap- ture actors’ behavior during crises that occurred in a single case – Italy. We then test the implications of this model in thirty-nine crises in our remaining eleven countries. We find that these crises were more likely to be resolved when actors learned to increase their offers during bargaining and that learning helps to strengthen democracy. In the future, we will extend this work in two ways. First, we will study more directly the effect of actors’ behavior during crises on democratic consolidation. Second, we will examine whether actors learn not only within a single crisis but also across series of crises; that is, whether actors’ behavior in previous crises influences them to resolve subsequent ones.

Learning to Consolidate Democracy

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