Deepening democracy: explaining variations in the levels of democracy
Fowler, Michael W.
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This dissertation identified the determinants of a country's level of democracy. In 1996, President Clinton incorporated democracy promotion as a key element in the U.S. National Security Strategy. Experience since the Cold War demonstrated that the implementation of reforms do not necessarily result in a Western-style democracy. The selection and accountability of a country's leaders resides on a political spectrum from no democracy (i.e., fully autocratic) to full democracy with many variations in between. Using a multi-method approach including econometric, computational, and case study analysis on Mexico, the Philippines, and Senegal, this study proposed and tested a model of democratic change based upon the interaction between a country's socioeconomic conditions, its actors, and its level of democracy. The analysis determined that no one factor could definitively predict a change in democracy. Each factor affected the preferences of key actors whose interaction resulted in changes in democracy. Violence and poverty provided a centripetal effect on polity while economic crisis and the loss of an interstate war had a centrifugal effect that pushed polities towards the extremes of the polity spectrum. Although economic income and development contributed to the potential for democracy, neither factor affected the timing of changes in democracy.
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