Nonviolent Revolutions and Democratisation: the Effect of State Seizure and Campaign Size on Post-Revolution Democracy
Recent research into the nature of nonviolent movements has largely focused on the differences between violent and nonviolent movements. It concludes that nonviolent movements have more favourable democratic outcomes more often. Celestino and Gleditsch (2013) show that regime change brought about by violent movements is likely to create new autocracies, as opposed to regime change brought about by nonviolent movements that considerably increase the likelihood of a transition to democracy. Karatnycky and Ackerman (2005, p. 2) conclude that “how a transition from authoritarianism occurs and the types of forces that are engaged in pressing the transition have a significant impact on the success or failure of democratic reform”, with nonviolent movements more likely to result in post-conflict democratisation. Chenoweth & Stephan (2011, p. 202) find that even failed attempts at nonviolent revolution are more likely to result in more democratic and peaceful societies than successful violent movements. However, little research has explored variation in the outcomes of nonviolent movements, in terms of post-conflict democratisation. While most nonviolent revolutions appear to have post-revolution democratisation as a result, but some result in continued, or more extreme, authoritarianism. Recent examples include Egypt (2011) which shifted from a pre-revolution polity score of -2 in 2011 to a two-year post-revolution polity score of -4 in 2013, and Thailand (2006), that moved from a pre-revolution score of 9 in 2006 to a score of -1 two-years post-revolution in 2008 (Gurr, Jaggers, & Marshall, 2010). This thesis seeks to explore what activists can do to increase the likelihood of post-nonviolent-revolution democratisation by focusing on two factors: the seizure of the state by members of the revolutionary movement and the campaign size of the revolutionary movement. State seizure has been much debated in revolutionary theory with some claiming it is vital for making societal changes, such as democratisation, while others claim the opposite. Campaign size appears to be an important factor in revolutionary success according to research that compares nonviolent movements with violent movements, and to the theory developed by nonviolence theorists. However, neither of these variables have been explored empirically to understand their effect on post-nonviolent-revolution democratisation. These variables are tested while controlling for some of the structural factors that may possibly be necessary, but not sufficient, for democratisation. The empirical component of this thesis involves statistical analysis of 50 cases of successful nonviolent movements that occurred between 1945 and 2006. Three main findings are made: (1) state seizure does not appear to negatively affect post-revolution polity scores; (2) state seizure has an initial positive effect of democratisation, soon after the completion of nonviolent revolution, but does not appear to contribute to long-term democratisation; and (3) the size of a successful nonviolent campaign does not appear to have an impact on post-revolution polity scores.
Advisor: Butcher, Charles
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: nonviolence; revolution; democratisation; nonviolent resistance; post-revolution; nonviolent struggle; state seizure
Research Type: Thesis