Fredrik Jansson, Patrik Lindenfors, Mikael Sandberg 2013
Technological Forecasting and Social Change
Recent ‘democratic revolutions’ in Islamic countries call for a re-consideration of transitions to and from democracy. Transitions to democracy have often been considered the outcome of socio-economic modernization and therefore slow and incremental processes. But as a recent study has made clear, in the last century, transitions to democracy have mainly occurred through rapid leaps rather than slow and incremental steps. We show that transitions to democracy starting before 1900 lasted for an average of 50 years and a median of 56 years, while transitions originating later took an average of 4.6 years and a median of 1.7 years. However, our results indicate that the survival time of democratic regimes is longer in cases where the transition periods have also been longer, suggesting that patience paid in previous democratizations. We identify a critical ‘consolidation-preparing’ transition period of 12 years. Our results also show that in cases where the transitions have not been made directly from autocracy to democracy, there are no main institutional paths towards democracy. Instead, democracy seems reachable from a variety of directions.