Political Competition, Political Participation, and Democratic Peace in Asia and Africa
28 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 30 Aug 2011
Date Written: 2011
While empirical analyses of the relationship between regime type and international conflict are less common now than they were in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the theoretical foundations of “democratic peace” (the empirical pattern that democracies rarely fight each other) remain uncertain. In this paper we test propositions which place theoretical emphasis on one aspect of democracy, genuine competition among organized groups for power. This elite-based explanation points to the existence of a viable opposition as key to tempering conflict behavior. Our propositions about political competition are tested against competing explanations regarding political participation, which we relate to “selectorate” theory, which emphasizes the demand for public goods engendered in mass participation in genuine elections, another key aspect of democracy. We also examine institutions of constraint on executive governmental power. It is rare that specific components of regime type are tested against each other in the same models. This more nuanced specification of regime type, we argue, provides both a better test of competing theories, and a better specified econometric modeling approach. In order to provide a difficult test, we use data from regions which have previously shown little or no evidence for the democratic peace: Africa and Asia. Our modeling approach takes into consideration the potential complexity of the relationship between specific components of regime type, and external conflict behavior. We use selection models to account for the interrelated stages of conflict initiation and escalation. We have developed a new machine-learning based parameter estimation technique for Generalised Linear Models (GLM), and applied it to better understand the potentially complex interactions and non-linear effects between regime-type components and conflict and peace. We find that our proposed specification of monotonic and non-monotonic dynamics for the relationship between conflict initiation and escalation, on the one hand, and institutions of political participation and political competition, on the other, proves reasonably robust when tested on data for Sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. The major exception is that both sorts of institutions have very different effects on dispute initiation in East Asia, than in Africa or globally.
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