Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Richard Gunther, P. Nikoforos Diamandouros, and Hans-Jurge Puhle. 1996. O’Donnell’s ‘Illusions’: A Rejoinder

Richard Gunther, P. Nikoforos Diamandouros, and Hans-Jurge Puhle. “O’Donnell’s ‘Illusions’: A Rejoinder.” Journal of Democracy 7 (October 1996), 151-59.

Indicators of democratic consolidation that O'Donnell incorrectly attributes to Gunther Diamandouros, and Puhle (and which they reject outright) are:
1)      Alternation in power between former rivals
2)      Continued widespread support and stability of a regime during times of economic hardship
3)      Successful defeat and punishment of a handful of strategically placed rebels
4)      Regime stability in the face of radical restructuring of the party system

A regime is consolidated only when there is an absence of politically significant antisystem party or social movement.
-          But while the existence of a sizeable antisystem party is a useful indicator of the absense of consolidation, the extent to which a party is or is not antisystem must not be ascertained on the basis of accusations by rival parties, but must be independently confirmed by the analyst on the basis of the antisystem party's official ideological and programmatic declarations, speeches by their elites, or probing interviews with party leaders.

Consolidation is not inherently teleological, as claimed by O'Donnell, but its concept captures an extremely important dimension of the democratization process beyond the creation of democratic institutions and the holding of elections.
-          Attitudinal indicators of consolidation are useful in predicting behavior directly relevant to the stability and long-term survival of democratic regimes.
-          The range of institutions relevant to regime consolidation and long-term stability goes beyond the electoral process.

Particularistic and clientelistic arrangements exist in all democratic systems, but over the long run such practices are antithetical to the quality of democracy and can result in the delegitimation of democracy. Particularism and clientelism are incompatible with the unhindered exercise of suffrage: particularism, because it involves and perpetuates unequal treatment of individuals/groups; clientelism, because it entails systematic and persistent power imbalances within society, polity, and economy. Both breed discontent over exploitative relationships and destabilize regimes.

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