Edward Mansfield and Jack Snyder worry about democratization in countries that lack the “right” preconditions because they believe that political development is path dependent. I see fewer dangers in “premature” democratic experiments and am skeptical about trying to hold off democratic change until conditions are ideal. West European political development was a series of false starts, failed liberalizations, and temporary regressions. Indeed these cases seem to show that problems and failures not only did not preclude later democratic success, but were instead integral parts of the long-term process through which non-democratic institutions, elites, and cultures were delegitimized and eventually eliminated and their democratic successors forged.
Exchange: The Vain Hope for “Correct” Timing
Issue Date July 2007
Page Numbers 14-17