The democratic dividend of nonviolent resistance

Research suggests that nonviolent resistance (NVR) campaigns are more successful in deposing dictators than armed rebellions. However, ousting dictators is only the first step in the process of democratization. After deposing an autocratic regime, societies enter a transition phase where they must learn to consolidate the gains of democracy and bargain about the new rules of the democratic regime. But even if free, fair, and competitive elections are held, indicating a successful transition to democratic rule, uncertainty about its stability remains salient. In the period that follows, either democracy survives and proves to be resilient, or an autocratic backslide occurs. In this article, we analyze the effect of NVR campaigns on the survival of democratic regimes. Building on the literature on modes of transitions and nonviolent resistance, we argue that those democratic regimes that come into being as a result of a NVR campaign are less prone to democratic breakdown. The main mechanism which produces this effect is that the organizational culture of NVR campaigns spills over to the subsequent democratic regime fostering conditions favorable for democratic survival. We test the effect of NVR campaigns on democratic regime survival using survival analysis and propensity score matching. The results show that democratic regimes that experience NVR during the transition phase survive substantially longer than regimes without NVR.


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