Spanish Politics and Society
Hispanic & European Studies Program
Fall 2009
Raimundo Viejo Viñas
Office 20.182
[email protected]
Theoretical approaches
 What is Democracy?
 Democracy is a particular type of political regime
 Democracy is not a state of things, something fixed
 Democracy is a dynamic way of taking decisions
that entails three different dimensions:
 Participation
 Deliberation
 Decision
 Democratization is the becoming Democracy of
a political regime. It is an endless, constituent
process. Democracy can advance or recede,
but can not remain static.
 One hundred years ago there were only a few
democracies in the world. But today
Democracy is considered the best (or the “least
bad”) form of government.
 Even autocracies present themselves as
“democracies” (Cuba, for example, is defined as a
“popular democracy”)
 There are three basic ways to explain
 Modernization or development theory
 Institutionalist approaches
 “Contentious politics” research program
 According to Modernization theory, democratization is
the result of a certain degree of socioeconomic
 Some exceptions challenge Modernization theory
 India, for example, is an poor but democratic country
 Saudi Arabia is a rich but un democratic country
 We cannot expect democratization from a certain
degree of socioeconomic development. Modernization
can help democratization, but it is not enough.
 In opposition to Modernization Theory
Institutionalist Approaches focus on political
actors, most notably in the political elites and
their pacts
 Institutionalist Approaches, however, tend to
forget the role of the masses in
democratization processes:
 The breakdown of German Democratic Republic, for
example, was not the result of an elite pact, but the
combination of mass demonstrations and mass
 “Contentious politics” research program see
democratization as a result of political conflict
and mass dynamics, not as a merely elite pact
 Elitist democratization can be easily reversed.
Democratic consolidation need mass
acceptance of democratic rule
 According to Charles Tilly: Democracy requires
a “broad, equal, protected and mutually
binding consultation”. There is no Democracy
without people’s consent.
 Democratization entails three
different processes:
 Liberalization
 Transition
 Consolidation
 liberalization refers to a relaxation of previous
government restrictions, usually in areas of social or
economic policy.
Liberalization of autocratic regimes may precede
democratization (as in the case of Spain) or not (as in
the case of the Prague Spring of 1968)
 Transition is a change in a political regime that
adopts a new, substantially different form of
 Consolidation is the process by which a new democracy
matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert into an
autocratic regime.
 Transition to democracy entails two
different processes:
 Instauration
 Institutionalization
 Instauration is the act of starting something
for the first time. The approval or the sanction
of a Constitution can be an example for the
instauration of a political regime
 Institutionalization is the creation or
organisation of governmental institutions or
particular bodies responsible for overseeing or
implementing policy

Spanish Politics and Society