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Coercive Capacity and the Prospects for Democratization

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How does the strength of a state's coercive apparatus under autocracy affect the likelihood of democratic transition? While a broad range of literature posits a negative link between repression and democracy, empirical models of the determinants of democratization rarely include measures that capture this relationship. An original panel dataset with a global scope from 1950–2002 enables an empirical assessment of whether coercive capacity is negatively associated with democracy. The dataset demonstrates that increased coercive capacity under autocracy has a strong, robust negative impact on both a country's level of democracy as well as the likelihood of democratization. The analysis suggests that empirical studies of democratization should include measures of repression to account for the widely assumed link between coercive capacity and autocracy.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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