Revolutions and Democracy. Can Democracies Prevent Revolutionary Armed Violence?
In recent years, the question of what form a revolutionary uprising will take – armed or unarmed – has been raised more often. This is because, as shown by numerous studies, revolutionary nonviolence can explain why an uprising fails or succeeds to lead to democracy. In the recent decades the likelihood of revolution being nonviolent appears to have significantly increased, but it is still not clear why this tendency is observed. Moreover, there are only a few quantitative cross-national studies on this topic, in which the authors tried to explain the apparent pattern. However, none of them considered political factors separately. This article tests the hypothesis that a country’s level of democracy can inhibit the armed revolutionary violence. By applying logistic regression to the NAVCO database, the authors analyze more than 400 revolutionary episodes and conclude that, in general, the more democratic the political system, the more likely the revolution take an unarmed form. Nevertheless, various revolutionary events could be of a rather different nature, and it is further shown that the level of democracy matters only for sociopolitical revolutions, while for ethno-separatist revolutions it does not play a significant role.