The great dilemma of democracy revolves around the state. Historically, the state has played a crucial role as enforcer of liberal democratic constitutions, but it has also been used by autocratic rulers to entrench their rule. The state is thus a two-edged sword: It can both be the guarantee of democratic rights and a tool that can be used to suppress such rights. One corollary of this is that the influence of state structures on democratic development depends on who holds government power. But the opposite observation can also be made, as governments play an important role in shaping the state apparatus. The state and the regime are thus intertwined.
Against this backdrop, this book presents a series of attempts – authored by influential experts such as Francis Fukuyama and Gerardo Munck – to disentangle the relationship between the state and political regimes. The contributions differ in terms of their particular theoretical and empirical focus. But they share the assumption that three criteria need to be observed to achieve a better understanding of the state-democracy nexus. First, it is valuable to distinguish conceptually between different aspects of the state. Second, the potential relationships between democracy and these attributes of state should be carefully theorized. Third, the consequent propositions must be interrogated using comparative approaches. This book was originally published as a special issue of Democratization.
1. The state-democracy nexus: conceptual distinctions, theoretical perspectives, and comparative approaches
David Andersen, Jørgen Møller and Svend-Erik Skaaning
2. State or democracy first? Alternative perspectives on the state-democracy nexus
Sebastián L. Mazzuca and Gerardo L. Munck
3. Exploring the relationship between infrastructural and coercive state capacity
4. State capacity and the paradox of authoritarian elections
Merete Bech Seeberg
5. Meritocratic administration and democratic stability
Agnes Cornell and Victor Lapuente
6. State capacity and political regime stability
David Andersen, Jørgen Møller, Lasse Lykke Rørbæk and Svend-Erik Skaaning
7. States and democracy
The journal, Democratization, emerged in 1994, during ‘the third wave of democracy’, a period which saw democratic transformation of dozens of regimes around the world. Over the last decade or so, the journal has published a number of special issues as books, each of which has focused upon cutting edge issues linked to democratization. Collectively, they underline the capacity of democratization to induce debate, uncertainty, and perhaps progress towards better forms of politics, focused on the achievement of the democratic aspirations of men and women everywhere.