The democratizing force of multi-party elections: it does not work in Africa, does it work in Asia?
Does the simple repetition of multi-party elections help to expand civil liberties and political rights? Do multi-party elections, no matter how unfree and unfair they may be, over time help to bring about a transition to democracy? In a series of influential publications, Staffan Lindberg has argued yes, based on his African data. Other scholars have been unable to find the same pattern in Latin America and the postcommunist states of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Moreover, Bogaards (2013, 2014) has recently cast doubt on the African evidence. The one region where the thesis of democratisation through elections has not been tested, so far, is Asia. This presentation seeks to fill that gap by explicitly engaging in "comparative regional democratization" or the application of comparative area studies to the study of democratization. Concretely, the paper asks whether the causal mechanisms and outcomes that Lindberg claims to have found in Africa can also be demonstrated in Asia. The answer to this question will help us with the identification of possible regionally specific processes of democratization.
About the presenter:
Matthijs Bogaards is the Van Zyl Slabbert Visiting Professor in the Department of Political Studies at UCT. He studied at the universities of Leiden, UC Berkeley, and the European University Institute in Florence and has taught at the University of Southampton, Jacobs University Bremen, the Central European University in Budapest, and the University for Peace in Costa Rica. His research interests include democracy in divided societies, deliberative democracy, comparative area studies, and African politics.