Elites and Transition

  • Graeme Gill


The breakdown of an authoritarian regime does not always lead to a democratic outcome. It could, and historically in most cases has, led to the replacement of one authoritarian regime by another. However, particularly in the last quarter of the twentieth century, many cases of authoritarian breakdown have been part of a shift to democratic rule. The dynamics of this shift are more complicated than those involved in regime breakdown more narrowly considered because, as well as involving all of those forces which contributed to that breakdown, new elements will also usually play a part in structuring the change. This also means that there is more scope for transition to be derailed, and increases the level of potential uncertainty.


Civil Society Regime Change Authoritarian Regime Transition Path Regime Type 
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Notes and References

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    He saw this type of transition as usually being fostered by a major institutional power-holder in the regime which came to believe that their long-term interests would be better served by a shift toward democracy than maintenance of the status quo. Such a path leaves the way open for elements within the regime to seek to tailor the process in such a way as to protect their core interests. As examples, he cites Spain where the process was initiated by a civilian or civilianized political leadership, Brazil where it was partly a case of initiation by ‘military as government’, and Greece (1973) and Portugal (1974) where it was initiated by the ‘military as institution.’ Stepan, p. 72.Google Scholar
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© Graeme Gill 2000

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  • Graeme Gill

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