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Toward a Democratic Civil Peace? Democracy, Political Change, and Civil War, 1816–1992

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2002

Håvard Hegre
Håvard Hegre is a Researcher, and Scott Gates and Nils Petter Gleditsch are Research Professors at the International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO), Fuglehauggata 11, Oslo, Norway. Tanja Ellingsen is Research Fellow at the Department of Political Science, University of Oslo, Norway. Hegre is also affiliated with the University of Oslo, Gates with Michigan State University, and Gleditsch with the Norwegian University of Science of Technology. The authors may be contacted at,,


Coherent democracies and harshly authoritarian states have few civil wars, and intermediate regimes are the most conflict-prone. Domestic violence also seems to be associated with political change, whether toward greater democracy or greater autocracy. Is the greater violence of intermediate regimes equivalent to the finding that states in political transition experience more violence? If both level of democracy and political change are relevant, to what extent is civil violence related to each? Based on an analysis of the period 1816–1992, we conclude that intermediate regimes are most prone to civil war, even when they have had time to stabilize from a regime change. In the long run, since intermediate regimes are less stable than autocracies, which in turn are less stable than democracies, durable democracy is the most probable end-point of the democratization process. The democratic civil peace is not only more just than the autocratic peace but also more stable.

Research Article
2001 by the American Political Science Association

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