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Democratization and Hybrid Regimes. Comparative Evidence from Southeast Europe

Written by  Marcus Alexander, this article appeared on the fourth issue of Vol. 22 of East European Politics & Societies in the fall of 2008.
 
Despite the central place of democratization studies in comparative politics, scholars still lack both theory and empirical evidence to understand institutional change in hybrid regimes (characterized by a collapse of one authoritarian regime and failure to transition to a consolidated democracy). This article makes a contribution to the emerging study of hybrid regimes by developing a middle-range theory for a medium-N set of previously neglected cases in Southeast Europe. It theorizes institutional change as a process initiated by the elites in power but then either accelerated or hampered by structural factors. After decomposing the effects of state capacity, opposition, and international influence in this dynamic and focusing on the process rather than the outcome, it is possible to refine the standard assumptions of democratization paradigm. The study finds that a strong state, a united opposition, and Western assistance can help authoritarian-leaning governments consolidate their coercive power.

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