Assessing Imposed Democracy: Implications for Political Stability and Human Rights

Written by Dev Bansal 

The identification of the legal problem as democracy has spread in most countries of the world during the last three decades, analytical attention has increasingly turned from explaining regime changes to evaluating and explaining the nature of democratic governments. Much of the literature on democracy in the 1990s was concerned with the strengthening of democratic regimes. In recent years, social scientists as well as democracy practitioners and aid organizations have sought to develop ways of articulating and assessing the quality of democracy. There are three broad motivations for this theory, methodological innovation and empirical research: first, that deepening democracy is a moral advantage, if not a necessity; secondly, reforms aimed at improving the quality of democracy, which is a sign of consolidation, are necessary to achieve broad and lasting legitimacy for democracy; and thirdly, that long-standing democracies must also reform if they want to respond to their problems of public dissatisfaction and even disillusionment.

Relevance to Industry In fact,[1] this problem is related to a decline in public confidence in governments and governments. political institutions. the growing alienation of citizens, especially from political parties, and the widespread perception that democratic governments and politicians are increasingly corrupt, self-serving and unaccountable – are characteristics of many new and old democracies, and have led even distinguished scholars to speak of a “Crisis of democracy “. The quality of democracy is a valuable and therefore controversial subject that touches on fundamental questions of norms and legitimacy. Who defines what is a “good” democracy and to what extent is a universal understanding of the quality of democracy possible? How efforts to address the shortcomings of democracy can lead to dimensions of democratic quality, all of which are impossible to achieve as far as possible.

We begin by offering brief definitions of the term’s “democracy” and “quality,” and we then suggest how these two concepts can be integrated into a multidimensional conception of democratic quality. In the main body of the paper, we define and analyse eight different di- mansions of democratic quality. We then reflect further on the linkages and interactions among them. Finally, we review how the six-case studies employ and illuminate our analytic framework.

Research question

How do the characteristics of the intervention (e.g., military vs. economic), the recipient country’s political context (e.g., level of authoritarianism, cultural factors), and the post-intervention support (e.g., nation-building efforts) influence the success of imposed democracy in promoting political stability and human rights?

Research Methodology

This research can be conducted using a mixed-methods approach, combining qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Here’s a breakdown of possibilities:

Qualitative Data

Case Studies: Select a few countries where democracy was imposed (e.g., Iraq, Afghanistan) and conduct in-depth studies of their political transitions, focusing on how imposed democracy impacted stability and human rights. This can involve analysing historical documents, policy reports, and interviews with experts and local populations.

Discourse Analysis: Examine the rhetoric surrounding imposed democracy in international relations and within the target countries. Analyse how different actors frame the concept and its relationship to human rights and stability.

Quantitative Data

Comparative Analysis: Compare countries that underwent imposed democracy to those with organic democratic transitions. Use existing datasets on political stability (e.g., Polity IV Project) and human rights violations (e.g., World Bank governance indicators) to statistically assess the impact of imposed democracy.

Event Data Analysis: If your research focuses on specific interventions, analyse event data (e.g., political protests, human rights abuses) to track changes in stability and human rights violations before, during, and after the intervention.

Additional Considerations

Control Variables: Consider factors that might influence the outcome besides the imposition of democracy. These could include pre-existing ethnic tensions, level of economic development, or regional instability.[2]

Ethical Considerations: When using data on human rights violations, ensure it comes from reputable sources and handle sensitive information ethically.


In many countries, the democratic rule of law is weakened by a fragmented cultural attitude, which treats the law only as an obstacle to the realization of its interests, as an inconvenience to be avoided at all costs. In many countries, this attitude extends widely from the popular classes to the entrepreneurial classes and is anchored in an Italian proverb (fraud goes together with the law). Studies show that the basic conditions for development Participation No regime can be a democracy. unless it grants all its adult citizens formal rights in political participation, including the right to vote. But a good democracy must ensure that all citizens can actually exercise those formal rights, allowing them to vote, organize, assemble, protest, lobby for their interests, and otherwise influence the decision-making process. Regarding the dimension of participation, the quality of democracy is high when citizens participate in the political process not only by voting, but also by joining political parties and NGOs, participating in discussions on socio-political issues, communicating and demanding accountability. elected representatives, controlling the actions of public officials, and organizing public affairs at the local community level. In these relationships, participation is closely related to political equality, because while formal participation rights are respected for all, political inequality exists. resources can make it significantly more difficult for disadvantaged people to exercise their right to democratic participation. A basic condition for widespread participation is therefore the widespread dissemination of basic education and literacy, and with-it political knowledge about the administrative system, its procedures, rules, issues, political parties and leaders. An important condition for support is a political culture that values ​​participation and equal competition. To be a democracy at all, the political system must have regular, free and fair electoral competition between different political parties. But the competitiveness of democracies varies according to the opening of new political forces to the electoral arena, the ease of defeating incumbents, and equal access to media and campaign financing. of competing political parties. Depending on the type of electoral system, democracies can also allow more or less decisive transfers of power. Here we are faced with a compromise within the general goal of competition: electoral systems based on proportional representation very well deserve an element of competitiveness that facilitates the entry of multiple parties into the electoral arena and parliament, but at their cost. element of competitiveness is the ease of transfer of power (or the efficiency of the electoral process). The latter is true because the presence of several parties with a relatively defined share of the vote tends to produce successive coalition governments that achieve considerable consistency in party composition over time.

Vertical Accountability

Accountability is the duty of duly elected political leaders to respond to inquiries from citizen-electors or other constitutional authorities on their political decisions. According to Schedler, responsibility consists of three primary components: justification, information, and punishment or recompense. “Justification refers to the explanations provided by the ruling authorities for their actions; punishment or compensation is the outcome imposed by the electorate or another authoritative body after an assessment of the information, justification, and other factors and interests behind the political action. Information on the political actions of politicians or branches of government is essential for holding them responsible.

Accountability can be either vertical or horizontal Vertical account- ability is that which citizens as electors can demand from their officials in the course of campaigns and elections, and which political and civil society actors can exercise at moments of political controversy. As Philippe C. Schmitter explains, in modern democracies, elected representatives play a crucial mediating role in the accountability relations. between citizens and rulers. This is especially true in parliamentary systems, where elected representatives can bring down the government. But in all democracies, representatives help to share and structure citizen preferences and expectations.

The electoral form of vertical accountability has a periodic nature and is dependent on the various local and national election dates. Ide- ally, the performance of the incumbent is reviewed and evaluated, policy alternatives are debated, and the voters either reward the incumbents by Horizontal Accountability. Democratic quality also requires that are answerable to other institutional actors that have the expertise and legal authority to control and sanction their behaviour. In contrast to vertical accountability, the actors are, more or less, political equals. Horizontal accountability is usually manifest in the monitoring, investigating, and [3]enforcement activities of a number of independent government agencies: the opposition in parliament; parliamentary investigative committees; the various tiers of the court system, including, crucially, the constitutional court; audit agencies; counter- corruption commissions; the central bank; an independent electoral administration, the ombudsman, and other bodies that scrutinize and limit the power of those who govern.

Democracy and Violation of Human Rights

Most studies posit and identify a linear and negative relationship between democracy and the violation of human rights. Some research challenges this finding, however, suggesting that nonlinear influences exist. Within this article, we examine the structure of the relationship between democracy and repression during the time period from 1976 to 1996. To conduct our analysis, we utilize diverse statistical approaches which are particularly flexible in identifying influences that take a variety of functional forms (specifically LOESS and binary decomposition). Across measures and methodological techniques, we found that below a certain level, democracy has no impact on human rights violations, but above this level democracy influences repression in a negative and roughly linear manner.

“Democracy” and “Quality”

To analyse the quality of democracy, and to identify what is “good” democracy, we must first define what democracy is. At a minimum, democracy requires: 1) universal adult suffrage; 2) recurring, free, competitive, and fair elections; 3) more than one serious political party; and 4) alternative sources of information. If elections are to be truly meaningful, free, and fair, there must be some degree of civil and political freedom beyond the electoral arena, permitting citizens to articulate and organize around their political beliefs and interests. In addition, formal democratic institutions should be sovereign-that is, they should not be constrained by elites or external powers that are not directly or indirectly accountable to the people. Once a regime meets these basic conditions, further empirical analysis can assess how well it achieves the three main goals of an ideal democracy-political and civil free- dom, popular sovereignty (control over public policies and the officials who make them), and political equality (in these rights and powers)-as well as broader standards of good governance, such as transparency, legality, and responsible rule.”

Thus, the analysis of a good democracy should exclude hybrid or “electoral authoritarian” regimes, which by failing to conduct free and fair elections fall short of an essential requirement for democracy. By definition, we will find the quality of democracy quite low in defective democracies, which are “exclusive” in offering only limited guarantees for political rights, or “dominated” in allowing powerful groups to condition and limit the autonomy of elected leaders, or “illiberal” in the inadequacy of their protections for civil rights and the rule of law. We can also expect the quality of democracy to be quite deficient in delegative democracies, which have electoral competitiveness and relative civil and political freedom, but whose officials, once elected, are only minimally responsive to citizen preferences, constrained by other efficiency and fairness of the application of the laws, the efficacy of government decisions, and the political responsibility and responsive- ness of elected officials. Governmental institutions also hold one another accountable before the law and the constitution (quality in terms of procedure).

With the above in mind, we identify eight dimensions on which democracies vary in quality. The first five are procedural dimensions: the rule of law, participation, competition, and accountability, both vertical and horizontal. Though also quite relevant to the content, these dimensions mainly concern the rules and practices.” The next two dimensions of variation are substantive in nature: respect for civil and political freedoms and the progressive implementation of greater political (and underlying it, social and economic) equality. Our last dimension, responsiveness, links the procedural dimensions to the substantive ones by measuring the extent to which public policies (including laws, institutions, and expenditures) correspond to citizen demands and preferences, as aggregated through the political process. These eight dimensions are elaborated below. Each may vary in the specific form of its institutional expression, and in its degree of development. Capturing and explaining this variation requires indicators that reveal how and to what degree cache dimension is present in different countries, and in different models of a good democracy. The resulting empirical data will also make it possible to track trends in the quality of democracy in individual countries over time, including the effectiveness of institutional reforms.”[4]

The multidimensional nature of our framework.

Procedural Dimensions of Democratic Quality

We are now ready to explore more concretely our eight dimensions of democratic quality. For each of them, we provide an empirical definition, explore the conditions under it develops and thrives, and how it is commonly subverted. We begin in this section with the five procedural dimensions.

The Rule of Law

As Guillermo O’Donnell explains, the rule of law means that all citizens are equal before the law, and that the laws them- selves are clear, publicly known, universal, stable, non-retroactive, and fairly and consistently applied to all citizens by an independent judiciary. These characteristics are fundamental for any civil order and a basic requirement for democratic consolidation, along with other cognate features of a constitutional order-such as civilian control over the military and the intelligence services, and an elaborate network of other agencies of horizontal accountability complementing the judiciary. We do not consider here a basic or “thin” notion of rule of the law, that is, a rule of law characterized by civil order maintained by govern- mental actors with a monopoly on violence. In the democratic context, the “thick” notion is more relevant.

Thus, a “good” (or in essence, a liberal) democracy has a strong, vigorous, diffuse, and self-sustaining rule of law in the following respects:

The law is equally enforced toward everyone, including state officials; no one is above the law.

  • The legal state is supreme throughout the country, leaving no areas dominated by organized crime, local oligarchs, or political bosses who are above the law;
  • Corruption is minimized, detected, and punished, in the political, administrative, and judicial branches of the state.
  • At all levels, the state bureaucracy applies the laws competently, efficiently, and universally, and assumes responsibility in the event of an error.
  • The police force is professional, efficient, and respectful of individuals legally guaranteed rights and freedoms, including rights of due process.
  • Citizens have equal and unhindered access to the courts to defend their rights and to contest lawsuits between private citizens or between private citizens and public institutions.
  • Criminal cases and civil and administrative lawsuits are heard and resolved expeditiously

The ways in which the rule of law may be subverted in a democracy are myriad. For example, politicians may use the law as a “political weapon” against their political and civic adversaries; and democratically elected leaders may attempt to pack the judiciary (particularly the constitutional court) with political loyalists.


Democratic Governance and Human Rights in Developing Nations

Public policies and political systems are intimately related in a reciprocal cause-and-effect connection. This association seems to be much stronger if the policies address human rights since a society’s political or even social structure is reflected in its acknowledgment and application of these rights. In order to examine the balance between various human rights programmes, this article will divide human rights into two categories: social and economic rights and civil and political rights. Additionally, an analysis of how these two categories of human rights affect the stability of democratic political authority will be attempted in this research.


The definition and application of human rights are still up for discussion despite their long history. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is endorsed by all United Nations members, will be used in this essay. Human rights are commonly categorised into three groups, which correspond to the typology created by TH Marshall (1964) over twenty years ago. These groups include civil rights such as freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, freedom of speech, faith, opinion, and expression, and right to life, security, justice, ownership, and assembly, as well as freedom from slavery and servitude, torture, and inhumane punishment.

  • Civil Rights such as freedom from slavery and servitude, torture and inhuman punishment and arbitrary arrest and impoundment, freedom of speech, faith, opinion and expression, rights to life, security, justice, ownership, and assembly
  • Political Rights such as the right to vote, rights to nominate for public office, and right to form and join political parties.[5]


The relationship between imposed democracy, political stability, and human rights may be complex, with success relying on democratic development or alternative paths. Future considerations should consider each nation’s unique circumstances, and international actors should acknowledge this complexity.


  • In the first section titled “Assessing Imposed Democracy: Implications for Political Stability and Human Rights”
  • In the section titled “Introduction”
  • In the section titled “Participation”
  • In the section titled “Competition”
  • In the section titled “Vertical Accountability”.
  • In the section titled “Horizontal Accountability”
  • In the section titled “Democracy and Violation of Human Rights”
  • In the section titled “”Democracy” and “Quality””

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *