How Democracies Emerge: The “Sequencing” Fallacy

Issue Date January 2007
Volume 18
Issue 1
Page Numbers 12-27
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Concerned by illiberalism and conflict in new democracies, some analysts advocate democratic sequencing—putting off democracy until the rule of law and a well-functioning state are in place. Such a view overestimates the willingness and capability of autocrats to build a strong foundation for democracy and the ability of the United States to influence decisions by other societies about how to proceed with political change. Gradually introducing key components of political competition is a better alternative than putting off democracy altogether in countries where the underlying structural factors point to a difficult democratic path.

About the Author

Thomas Carothers is the Harvey V. Fineberg Chair and director of the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His most recent book is Democracies Divided: The Global Challenge of Political Polarization (2019, coedited with Andrew O’Donohue).

View all work by Thomas Carothers