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Working paper

(Re-)Bulding the Ship of State at Sea? State Capacity and Regime Dynamics in Post-Communist Countries

Melville A. Y., Stukal D.
  The relationship between  stateness and state capacity, on the one hand, and  political regimes and their dynamics, on the other,  has  received  increasing attention in  comparative politics  in recent years. Though empirical research does not provide consistent findings, arguments  currently  under discussion vary from “stateness first” (democratization only after effective state-building) to “building or rebuilding  the ship of state while at sea” (state-building and democratization as complements). Several studies reveal a J-curve link connecting autocracy and  democracy to levels of state capacity,  implying that autocratic regimes have higher state capacity than hybrid ones. This paper questions  these claims and reveals that democratization may start at low levels of state capacity, although democratic consolidation occurs at high levels of state capacity. Using a post-Communist sample, we reveal no J-shaped relationship between state capacity and political regime. We also show that state capacity does not remain unchanged in periods of social and political upheavals and its dynamics in numerous cases stipulate changes in the level of democracy. Particular patterns of this relationship are discussed in the paper in the context of clusters of post-Communist regime transformations.