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 vice-president for international politics and governance and director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His most recent book is Confronting the Weakest Link: Aiding Political Parties in New Democracies (2006).

View all work by Thomas Carothers