The Self-Restraining State: Power and Accountability in New Democracies

"[This] elegantly written and rigorously structured volume … constitutes an important landmark in the comparative study of democratization."—Carlos Santiso, Forum for Development Studies

New democracies all over the world are finding themselves haunted by the old demons of clientelism, corruption, arbitrariness, and the abuse of power—leading to a growing awareness that, in addition to elections, democracy requires checks and balances. Democratic governments must be accountable to the electorate; but they must also be subject to restraint and oversight by other public agencies. It is not enough that citizens control the state. The state must control itself.

This collection explores how new democracies can achieve that goal. Focusing on electoral administration, judicial systems, corruption control, and central banks, the authors consider such issues as how governments can establish effective agencies of restraint, why they should accept them, and what those agencies can do to achieve credibility.


  • Introduction—the Editors.
  • Conceptualizing Accountability—A. Schedler.
  • Horizontal Accountability in New Democracies—G. O’Donnell.
  • Comments on O’Donnell.
  • Constitutionalism and Democracy—R. Sklar.
  • The Limits of Horizontal Accountability—P. Schmitter.
  • Traditions of Accountability—M. Plattner.
  • A Response to My Commentators—G. O’Donnell.ELECTORAL ADMINISTRATION.
  • A Brief History of Electoral Administration—R. Pastor.
  • Off the Streets and into the Courtrooms: Resolving Postelectoral Conflicts in Mexico—T.A. Eisenstadt.
  • Institutionalizing Credible Elections in Ghana—E. Gyimah-Boadi.
  • The Third Dimension of Accountability: The International Community in National Elections—R. A. Pastor.
  • A Brief History of Judicial Review—H. Schwartz.
  • Judicial Independence and Judicial Reform in Latin America—P. Domingo.
  • Building Judicial Independence in Common Law Africa—J. Widner.
  • Surprising Success: The New East European Constitutional Courts—H. Schwartz.
  • A Brief History of Anticorruption Agencies—M. Johnston.
  • Corruption, Democracy, and Reform in Benin—J.R. Heilbrunn.
  • Combating Corruption in Asia: South Korea and Thailand—J.S.T. Quah.
  • The Global Coalition Against Corruption: Evaluating Transparency International—F. Galtung and J. Pope.
  • A Brief History of Central Bank Independence in Developing Countries—S. Maxfield.
  • Misguided Autonomy: Central Bank Independence in the Russian Transition—J. Johnson.
  • Learning From Failure: The International Financial Institutions as Agencies of Restraint in Africa—P. Collier.
  • Restraining the State: Conflicts and Agents of Accountability—A. Schedler.


Andreas Schedler is in the department of political studies at CIDE.

Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution of War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.  Marc F. Plattner is vice president for research and studies at the National Endowment for Democracy.

They serve as codirectors of the International Forum for Democratic Studies and coeditors of the Journal of Democracy.