Democracy in the developing world is generally outliving expectations, but not outperforming them. Nearly four decades after the “Third Wave of democratization” began and more than two decades after the Cold War ended, there has not been any “third reverse wave” of authoritarianism. Political scientists need to transcend our rightful concerns with how and why young democracies collapse or consolidate, and devote more attention to considering how and why they careen. I define democratic careening as regime instability and uncertainty sparked by intense conflict between political actors deploying competing visions of democratic accountability. It occurs when actors who conceive of democracy as requiring substantial inclusivity of the entire populace (i.e. vertical accountability) clash with rivals who value democracy for its constraints against excessive concentrations of unaccountable power, particularly in the political executive (i.e. horizontal accountability). India and Indonesia will be shown to be cases where vertical and horizontal accountability have recently been advanced in tandem more than at each other’s expense, which has kept democratic careening to a relative minimum. By contrast, Thailand and Taiwan have recently experienced more serious clashes between proponents of vertical accountability and defenders of horizontal accountability at a national scale, although in informatively distinctive ways.
About the speaker:
Dan Slater is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His book manuscript examining how divergent historical patterns of contentious politics have shaped variation in state power and authoritarian durability in seven Southeast Asian countries, entitled Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia, was published in the Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics series in 2010. He is also a co-editor of Southeast Asia in Political Science: Theory, Region, and Qualitative Analysis (Stanford University Press, 2008), which assesses the contributions of Southeast Asian political studies to theoretical knowledge in comparative politics. His published articles can be found in disciplinary journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, American Journal of Sociology, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, International Organization, and Studies in Comparative International Development, as well as more area-oriented journals such as Indonesia, Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia, and the Taiwan Journal of Democracy. He has recently received four best-article awards and two best-paper awards from various organized sections of the American Political Science Association and American Sociological Association.