Democratic consolidation

Democratic consolidation

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Democratic consolidation is the process by which a new democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

 matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism
Authoritarianism is a form of social organization characterized by submission to authority. It is usually opposed to individualism and democracy...

 without an external shock. The notion is contested because it is not clear that there is anything substantive that happens to new democracies which secures their continuation beyond those factors that simply make it 'more likely' that they continue as democracies. Unconsolidated democracies suffer from formalized but intermittent elections and clientelism
Clientelism is a term used to describe a political system at the heart of which is an assyemtric relationship between groups of political actors described as patrons and clients...



Some scholars think that the process by which a democracy becomes consolidated involves the creation and improvement of secondary institutions of the democracy. Linz and Stepan's thesis, for example, is that democracy is consolidated by the presence of the institutions supporting and surrounding elections (for example the rule of law
Rule of law
The rule of law, sometimes called supremacy of law, is a legal maxim that says that governmental decisions should be made by applying known principles or laws with minimal discretion in their application...


Informal rules

O'Donnell believes that the institutionalization of electoral rules is not the most interesting feature of democratic consolidation.
His approach is to compare the formal institutional rules (for example the constitution) with the informal practices of actors. Consolidation on this view is when the actors in a system follow (have informally institutionalised) the formal rules of the democratic institution.

Civic culture

Almond and Verba are the originators of this theory. It locates the consolidation of democracy with the values and attitudes which emerge with, and work to sustain, participatory democratic institutions relate to the manner in which people within a polity view their relationships with others vis a vis their own interests.

Putnam believes that political capital needs to be accrued to consolidate a democracy.

Fukuyama claims that the key to consolidation is political culture.