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Political Conditions for Effective Democracy Assistance

Democracy
Democratisation
Development
Anna Lührmann
University of Gothenburg
Anna Lührmann
University of Gothenburg
Kelly McMann
Case Western Reserve University
Carolien Van Ham
European University Institute

Abstract

Political Conditions for Effective Democracy Assistance" Amidst the global authoritarian rollback, political conditions for democracy assistance have become increasingly challenging (Carothers 2015). In many countries, international democracy promoters face the resistance of increasingly self-confident authoritarian incumbents. Existing large-N studies have shown average effects of democracy aid on democratization, but did not investigate contextual conditions for successful democracy aid (Finkel et al 2007; Kalyvitis et al 2010; Scott and Steele 2011). However, case studies demonstrate that contextual factors – such as intractable incumbent regimes – can limit the impact of democracy assistance (e.g. Peou 2007). Therefore, this large-N study investigates the impact of democracy assistance in different political contexts. Building on recent literature on elections in autocracies, we develop a theory of the strategic interests of authoritarian incumbents with regards to democratic assistance. Specifically, we argue that some types of democracy assistance – e.g. assistance for civil society - maybe more suitable than others to circumvent the resistance of strong authoritarian incumbents. To test our hypotheses we make use of disaggregated data on OECD/DAC donor spending on democracy aid 2002-2012 in combination with Varieties of Democracy data on disaggregated indicators of democracy to investigate the effectiveness of different types of democracy aid in diverse contexts. Two-stage regression methods are employed to account for selection effects.