Elections in Hybrid Regimes: Is an instrument for Democratization or Authoritarianism?

Mustafa Cem OĞUZ, Özhan Demirkol

Abstract


Since the end of the 1990s, it has been noticed that the third way of democratization could not end up with the expected outcomes for consolidation of democracy, which, in turn, resulted with a debate on whether various countries  that established democratic institutions were genuinely democratic or not. Since the beginning of the 2000s, it has been confirmed that such regimes were stuck in a hybrid situation rather than being in a transitionary period, which resulted with some academicians to declare the end of transition paradigm. Various names have been suggested to classify these regimes, including Illiberal Democracies, Defective Democracies, Delegative Democracies, Competitive Authoritarian Regimes, and Hybrid Regimes. Despite the variation in their characteristics, the common denominator of these regimes is regular elections. This common characteristics of these regimes led academicians to call these regimes as Electoral Authoritarianism rather than Electoral Democracies.

Whether elections in these regimes boost democratization a significant debate among academicians. Several researchers assert that despite irregularities, regular elections have a positive effect on democratization of these regimes. Against this expectation, others believe that elections in such regimes reinforce authoritarian characteristics of these regime. A third alternative to these views, assert that there is no essential relation between democracy and elections: under specific circumstances, elections may produce a positive effect on democratization; however, the absence of these circumstances may produce the opposite outcome. In this study, we review this third assertion and examine the circumstances that may lead to democratization or reinforce electoral authoritarianism.  

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