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Democratic consolidation is the process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock. The notion is contested because it is not clear that there is anything substantive that happens to new democracies that secures their continuation beyond those factors that simply make it 'more likely' that they continue as democracies. Unconsolidated democracies suffer from formalized but intermittent elections and clientelism.[1]

Indicators of ConsolidationEdit

A democracy is widely considered consolidated when several or all of the following conditions are met. Firstly, there must be a durability or permanence of democracy over time, including (but by no means limited to) adherence to democratic principles such as rule of law, independent judiciary, competitive and fair elections, and a developed civil society.[2] Some theorists believe that this secondary process of instilling democracy into the institutions of government is how consolidation occurs. The democracy must also be accepted by its citizens as the ruling form of government, thus ensuring stability and, again, minimizing the risk of reverting to an authoritarian regime. [3]

Consolidation theoriesEdit


Some scholars think that the process by which a democracy becomes consolidated involves the creation and improvement of secondary institutions of the democracy. Linz and Stepan's thesis, for example, is that democracy is consolidated by the presence of the institutions supporting and surrounding elections (for example the rule of law).[3]

Informal rulesEdit

O'Donnell believes that the institutionalization of electoral rules is not the most interesting feature of democratic consolidation. His approach is to compare the formal institutional rules (for example the constitution) with the informal practices of actors. Consolidation on this view is when the actors in a system follow (have informally institutionalised) the formal rules of the democratic institution.[citation needed]

Civic cultureEdit

Political culture is linked to democratic consolidation. Scholars Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba, in The Civic Culture (1963), argued that public participation in government and attitudes toward government were significant in democratic transition and consolidation.[4] Some scholars identify political tolerance and trust in institutions as important to democratic consolidation.[5]

Labour migrationEdit

One of the suggested obstacles to democratic consolidation is brain drain in which high skilled workers from developing countries migrate to high-income and capital-rich countries. This leaves many new democracies in the developing world problems in terms of steering effective governance due to the lack of high-skilled professionals [6]



Whether Mexico is a fully consolidated democracy is the source of much debate, but the process has clearly begun in the country. After over 70 years of authoritarian rule under the Mexican PRI party, Mexican politics have transitioned into a competitive, multi-party system.[7] Their courts are independent and may check the powers of other branches of government, and media censorship is slowly loosening its grip. Recent political results, such as those of the 2018 presidential election, suggest that the PRI is unlikely to regain sole power over the country.

Western EuropeEdit

In general, the countries of western Europe serve as examples of fully consolidated democracies. The United Kingdom and the Netherlands, for example, are unlikely to revert to authoritarian monarchies.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ O'Donnell 1996 'Illusions about Consolidation'
  2. ^ (PDF) Retrieved 2019-01-15. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ a b Linz and Consolidated Democracies'
  4. ^ Russell J. Dalton and Doh Chull Shin , Reassessing The Civic Culture Model (2011).
  5. ^ Carlos Garcia-Rivero, Hennie Kotzé & Pierre Du Toit, Political culture and democracy: The South African case. Politikon: South African Journal of Political Studies, pp. 163-181, Vol. 29, 2002.
  6. ^ RRegilme Jr, Salvador Santino F. "Is International Labor Migration Good for Democratic Consolidation?." Peace Review 25.1 (2013): 97-103.
  7. ^ (PDF) Retrieved 2019-01-15. Missing or empty |title= (help)