Mind over Matter: Democratic Transitions in Ideological States
In seeking to explain why and when democratic transitions occur or do not occur, political science has treated all types of states similarly without regard to a state's ideological character despite ideology being a critical variable for a significant subset of states. Does political ideology matter when it comes to democratic transitions? What roles does political ideology play in hindering or altogether preventing successful transitions to democracy? This dissertation argues that ideological conflict over first-order political principles between authoritarian regimes and opposition groups acts as a structural constraint on democratic transitions, and that until the conflict over political ideology is resolved, states will not transition to democracy.Through typological theorizing, statistical analysis of ideological states in the second half of the 20th century, and case studies of Turkey and Tunisia, this dissertation demonstrates why ideological conflict prevents a successful transition process and process traces the manner in which ideological conflict between regimes and opposition groups presents a barrier to democratization and how this barrier is overcome. Since ideological regimes vet their political opponents on the basis of ideology, they are unwilling to open up the political system without guarantees from the opposition that the regime ideology will outlast their own rule. This dissertation argues that ideological regimes place the survival of their hegemonic ideology above their own survival in power, and once an ideological regime has been assured that its ideology will survive a transfer of power, transitions are allowed to proceed apace. By explaining why and how ideology can impact transitions, this dissertation enhances our understanding of political development and the motivations and interests of an important subset of authoritarian states.
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