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Diffusion and the International Context of Democratization

  • Kristian Skrede Gleditsch (a1) and Michael D. Ward (a2)

Democracy does not evolve sui generis. The spatial clustering in democracy and transitions suggests that international factors play a prominent role in forging democracies as well as influencing their durability. We argue that democracy often comes about as a result of changes in the relative power of important actors and groups as well as their evaluations of particular institutions, both of which are often influenced by forces outside the country in question. The scope and extent of connections with other democratic countries in a region can strengthen support for democratic reform and help sustain institutions in transitional democracies. Results from a transition model demonstrate that international factors can exert a strong influence on the prospects for transitions to democracy, and the spatial clustering in democracy and transitions cannot adequately be explained by the hypothesized domestic social requisites of individual countries.We are grateful for comments from Brian A'Hearn, Kyle Beardsley, Nathaniel Beck, Scott Gates, Håvard Hegre, David Lektzian, Jon Pevehouse, Dan Reiter, Kenneth Schultz, Heather Smith, Håvard Strand, and Kaare Strøm, the editors, and two anonymous reviewers, as well as the participants at the Conference on the International Diffusion of Democracy and Markets, University of California, Los Angeles, March 2003, and the Conference on the International Diffusion of Political and Economic Liberalization at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., October 2003.

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