Successful and Failed Episodes of Democratization: Conceptualization, Identification, and Description
What explains successful democratization? Answering this requires that researchers identify not only countries that successfully transitioned to democracy, but also those that began to liberalize—that initiated institutional reforms that move it towards democracy—but failed to transition. In this paper, we propose a solution that allows researchers more fully to capture the liberalization period and then classify these episodic events according to their outcome: successful, failed, or censored episodes of democratization. We identify the appropriate procedures and data necessary for operationalization of such episodes and present the first ever dataset of the full universe of democratization episodes 1900-2017, compare them to existing measures and assess construct validity. We also demonstrate the value of this approach showing how we can substantially improve upon what we know about democratization, including their relationship to development, state capacity, underlying temporal features, and the relationship between patterns of liberalization and whether a country successfully transitions to democracy.