A number of countries have emerged as stable (though minimalist) democracies despite low levels of modernization, lack of democratic neighboring countries and other factors consistently related to democratic stability in the literature. Strikingly many cases of democratization can be accounted for by these mainstream theories of democratization. In this perspective, it is all the more important to understand how some cases have beaten the odds and established and maintained at least an electoral democracy within unfavorable structural settings. Existing studies of deviant democracies are short of explanations. A growing literature suggests that a number of damaging factors have been absent in these countries. However, it offers no actual positive explanation of what drives this surprising process of change. Seeberg will present an overview of deviant democracies and discuss ways to understand the emergence and endurance of democracy in these cases.
Michael Aagaard Seeberg is a CDDRL visiting researcher in winter and spring 2012, while researching on his PhD project titled “Democracy Against the Odds”. He expects to obtain his PhD from Aarhus University, Denmark in the fall 2013.
Michael Seeberg’s PhD project seek to understand the emergence of stable (though minimalist) democracy in a number of countries despite low levels of modernization, lack of democratic neighboring countries and other factors consistently related to democratic stability in the literature. Cases in point are Ghana, India, Mauritius and Mongolia. The study of deviant democracies can give us some leverage in understanding the determinants of democracy – determinants that have not really been uncovered yet. Current accounts stress the absence of ‘damaging factors’ as decisive for the successful emergence of democracy. With the project, Michael Seeberg hope to refine existing explanations of democratization while, on the other hand identify the positive drivers that also contributed to new stable democracies. The overall aim is to build a foundation for a better understanding of why some regime changes result in stable democracies whereas others are stuck as hybrid regimes or return to the set of outright autocracies.
Prior to his PhD studies, Michael Seeberg has been a visiting scholar at the University of Washington, Seattle, assistant attaché at the Danish Mission to the United Nations in New York, and a visiting scholar at the Danish Institute for International Studies in Copenhagen, Denmark. He holds an MSc in political science from Aarhus University. Concurrently with his PhD studies, Michael Seeberg is engaged in the Scouts in Denmark, where he is a member of the executive board at the YMCA Scouts, and member of the Steering Committee for the Project supporting Guiding and Scouting in Eastern and Central Europe.