GV101 Week 2.docx

Two groups of actors elites who want to preserve

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Two groups of actors: Elites, who want to preserve their wealth Masses, who want to redistribute wealth Two models of government: Dictatorship => elites govern, but must pay costs of repression Democracy => majority governs -> wealth redistribution (because the average voter is poorer than the elite) Some factors that influence political transitions: Likely wealth redistribution if democracy is introduced more inequality -> less chance of democracy Cost of repression higher costs -> more chance of democracy ---------------------------------------------------------- Hypothesis 1 (credible commitment) Elites in non-democracies cannot credibly commit to redistribute wealth without democratic institutions (e.g. elections, majoritarian parliaments). Hypothesis 2 (wealth inequality) Higher wealth inequality raises the risk of democracy for non-democratic elites, which leads to more efforts to suppress democracy. Hypothesis 3 (economic shocks) Economic shocks lead to transitions to democracy, but not transitions away from democracy: in non- democracies, the middle classes blame the elites for economic failure, whereas in democracies the middle classes blame the government of the day.
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FOUR DEMOCRATIC PATHS (from Acemoglu & Robinson, 2006) Britain (growing income inequality) Democracy introduced by the elite who feared revolution (in 1832), and then gradually consolidated (in 1867, 1918, 1928) Argentina (high income inequality) Democracy introduced abruptly (in 1912), but unstable, with regular military coups (in 1930, 1955, 1976) and switches back to democracy (in 1946, 1973, 1983) Singapore (low income inequality) A semi-democratic regime that seems highly stable (competitive elections, but press restrictions and one-party dominates) South Africa (high income inequality)
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