Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan. Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Chapter 1.
A democratic transition is complete when the following conditions hold:
1) Sufficient agreement has been reached about political procedures to produce an elected government
2) A government comes to power that is the direct result of a free and popular vote
3) This, aforementioned, government de facto has the authority to generate new policies
4) The executive, legislative and judicial power generated by the new democracy does not have to share power with other bodies de jure.
Democratic consolidation occurs once democracy becomes "the only game in town"--that is, when:
1) No significant political groups seriously attempt to overthrow the democratic regime or secede from the state.
2) Even in the face of severe political and economic crises, an overwhelming majority of the people believe that any further political change must emerge from the parameters of democratic formulas.
3) All the other actors in the polity become habituated to the fact that political conflict will be resolved according to the established norms (specific laws, procedures, and institutions) and that violations of these norms are likely to be both ineffective and costly.
4) Democracy becomes routinized and deeply internalized in social, institutional, and even psychological life, as well as in calculations for achieving success.
Consolidated democracies break down due to new dynamics in which the regime cannot solve a set of problems; the breakdown is unrelated to weaknesses or problems specific to the historic process of democratic consolidation.
A robust civil society in a democracy guarantees the right of association and has the capacity to generate political alternative to monitor government and state; it helps push democratic transitions to their completion.
Political society crafts the constitution, laws, manages the state apparatus to support the civil society, and produces the overall regulatory framework for economic society.
No consolidated democracy has a purely free market economy or command economy; regulations are necessary to protect the interests of the public, but a purely command economy would deprive the society of the relative autonomy necessary in a consolidated democracy.
Additional summary by Mike
Linz and Stepan: The Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation
Main question: How does the character of nondemocratic regimes affect, or not affect, the paths that can be taken to complete a transition to a democratic regime?
Liberalization is a broad concept and can entail a mix of policy and social changes.
Democratization is wider and more specifically political, requiring contestation and free competitive elections. Hence, there can be liberalization without democratization.
A democratic transition is defined as complete when sufficient agreement has been reached about political procedures to produce an elected government, when a government comes to power that is the direct result of a free and popular vote, when this government de facto has the authority to generate new policies, and when the executive, legislative, and judicial power generated by the new democracy does not have to share power with other bodies de jure.
1. After a democratic transition, there are still often many tasks that need to be accomplished, conditions that must be established, and attitudes and habits that must be cultivated before democracy could be considered consolidated. Across consolidated democracies there is a continuum from low to high quality democracies, and quality can frequently be improved.
2. The authors favor a narrower definition of democratic consolidation, one that combines behavioral, attitudinal, and constitutional dimensions. Essentially, it occurs when democracy is 'the only game in town.' Transitions may begin without ever reaching completion, even when no authoritarian regime assumes power.
3. Democracy is the only game in town when no significant political groups seriously attempt to overthrow the democratic regime or secede from the state. It is also consolidated when people believe that all political change must occur through democratic means. Last, it is consolidated when all actors become habituated to the fact that political conflict should be resolved according to established norms and that violations of those norms are likely to be ineffective and costly.
4. Institutional indeterminacy about things such as federalism, decisionmaking processes, etc. can postpone any consolidation of democracy.
5. Free elections are necessary but not sufficient. Five more conditions must exist:
a. Free and lively civil society (i.e., civilian participation).
b. Relatively autonomous and valued political society (i.e., how is the right to exercise power over the state contested? Parties, elections, electoral rules, etc.). Note that political and civil society are complementary.
c. Rule of law to ensure legal guarantees for citizens' freedoms and independent associational life. Autonomy and independence of civil and political society must be embedded in and supported by this rule of law.
d. State bureaucracy usable by democratic government. Democratic governments must be able to effectively exercise their claims to the monopoly on the legitimate use of force in the territory. They need an effective capacity to command, regulate, and extract.
e. Institutionalized economic society. Note that there cannot be consolidated democracy in a command economy OR in a pure market economy. You need norms, institutions, and regulations to mediate between state and market.