Using a new measure of “comprehensive democracy,” our analysis traces the global democratic trend over the last 116 years, from 1900 until 2016, looking in particular at the centennial trend’s cultural zoning. As it turns out, democracy has been proceeding and continues to differentiate the world’s nations in a strongly culture-bound manner: high levels of democracy remain a distinctive feature of nations in which emancipative values have grown strong over the generations. By the same token, backsliding and autocratization are limited to cultures with under-developed emancipative values. In line with this finding, public support for democracy neither favours democratization, nor does it prevent autocratization in disjunction from emancipative values. On the contrary, public support for democracy shows such pro-democratic effects if – and only if – it co-exists in close association with emancipative values. The reason is that – in disconnect from emancipative values – support for democracy frequently reverts its meaning, indicating the exact opposite of what intuition suggests: namely, support for autocracy. In conclusion, the prospects for democracy are bleak where emancipative values remain weak.
This paper analyzes the relationship between support of democracy and attitudes to human rights, in particular, support for gender equality, in the countries covered by the first wave of the Arab Barometer project. We use cluster analysis and negative binomial regression modelling to show that, unlike in most countries of the world, correlation between support of democracy and gender equality is very low in the Arab countries. There is a group of people in the region who support both democracy and gender equality, but they are a small group (about 17% of the population) of elderly and middle-aged people characterized by higher education and social status. A substantial number of poorly educated males express support for democracy but not for gender equality. Many people, especially young males aged 25–35 in 2007, are against both gender equality and democracy. Younger people tend to be both better educated and more conservative, those belonging to the 25–34 age group are the most patriarchal in their gender attitudes. Controlling for age, education still has a positive effect on gender equality attitudes. Nevertheless, this phenomenon probably means that there are two simultaneous processes going on in the Middle East. On the one hand, people are getting more educated, urbanized etc., which means the continuation of modernization. On the other hand, we observe a certain retrogression of social values.
The article questions the structural approach to autocratic transition that sees government as knowingly and purposely building autocracy, and contributes to the tradition emphasizing the plurality of possible regime developments and the role of contingency therein, by providing a more systematic treatment of such contingency. We offer a path-dependent theory of political change and use insights from cognitive institutionalism to show how ad hoc policy reform practices become accepted as a trusted way of interaction by political actors and how they “learn” their way into autocracy. This intuition is substantiated with a case-study of the labour reform in Putin’s Russia. The early 2000s marked a surge in uncertainty in Russian politics caused by the succession crisis and the profound political turnover it triggered. This uncertainty could have resolved in a number of ways, each leading to a different political development. We trace the actual way out of this uncertainty and show that the major factor to condition further regime trajectory was the way social reforms were conducted. The course of these reforms determined the ruling coalition and the institutions that ensure credible commitment within its ranks (the dominant party), and contributed to crowding out the political market and opposition decay.
Competitive elections in authoritarian regimes are inherently ambiguous: do they extend regime persistence or, vice versa, operate as subversive events? This article tests Inglehart and Welzel's “emancipatory theory of democracy”, which has not been tested for competitive elections in autocracies: when emancipative values grow strong, autocratic power appears increasingly illegitimate in people's eyes, which motivates subversive mass actions against authoritarian rule. For electoral outcomes this suggestion implies, first, that authoritarian incumbents are more likely to suffer electoral defeat when emancipative values have become more widespread. Second, post-electoral protest against fraudulent elections is more likely when emancipative values have become more widespread. To test these hypotheses, we analyse 152 elections among 33 electoral authoritarian regimes over 21 years from 1990–2011. We find that emancipative values are indeed strongly conducive to incumbent defeat while their effect on post-electoral protest is conditional: it only occurs in elections won by the incumbent. These findings intertwine two separately developed literatures: one on authoritarian regime subversion and the other on emancipatory cultural change.