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Working Paper No. 09-01

The Effects of Internal and External Conflict on Democratization Incentives
David Pinto
March 2009


It has been argued that internal and external military threats can act as catalysts for democratization. While internal threats have an unambiguous effect in favor of democratization, as suggested by Acemoglu and Robinson (2000), the effects of external threats are less clear. On the one hand, wars may force concessions from elite players in exchange for military support (Ticchi and Vindigni (2008)) or may insulate military elites from irrelevance during transitions (Acemoglu, Ticchi, and Vindigni (2008)), on the other, they may help consolidate the internal dominance of the ruling elite (Powell (2006)). This paper presents a simple model which shows the conditions under which external threats may either favor or harm democratization process.

JEL classification: D74, F51, H11, N40
Keywords: Democratization, Revolution, War