Francesco Cavatorta
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Regime change and international variables
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The literature on transitions to democracy emphasises three distinct clusters of explanations for their occurrence and development. The first is termed ‘preconditions of democracy’, whereby countries will transit to democracy when specific economic or social conditions are satisfied. The second is preoccupied with the ‘political culture’ of the country under investigation. While the emphasis on political culture has been increasingly discredited, when it comes to analyses of the Arab world, it reasserts its strength quite forcefully. The third relies on explanations purely based on the path-dependent game between domestic actors. This chapter analyses the shortcomings of these three exclusive clusters of explanations and argues that the literature should take into much greater account the influence of international variables, placing greater emphasis on political bargaining. There is comparatively little work on the external constraints, incentives and disincentives to democratisation and it is this gap that needs to be filled. When it comes to Algeria, the near total exclusion of international factors in explaining the failure of the transition is quite puzzling.

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