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Revolutions and democracy
  • Vadim Ustyuzhanin,
  • Andrey Korotayev
Vadim Ustyuzhanin
Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Andrey Korotayev
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Abstract

In recent years, the question of what form a revolutionary uprising will take — armed or unarmed — has been raised more and more often. This is because, as shown by numerous studies, revolutionary nonviolence can explain why the uprising failed or succeed to lead to democracy. In the recent decades the likelihood of revolution being nonviolent appears to have significantly increased, but it is still not clear why this tendency is observed. Moreover, there are only a few quantitative cross-national studies on this topic, in which the authors tried to explain the apparent pattern. However, none of them considered political factors separately. This paper tests the hypothesis that a country’s level of democracy can inhibit the spread of revolutionary violence. By applying logistic regression to the NAVCO database, we analyze 400 episodes and conclude that, in general, the more democratic the political system, the more likely the revolution take a nonviolent form. Nevertheless, the various revolutionary events could be of a rather different nature, and it is further shown that the level of democracy matters only for sociopolitical revolutions, while for separatist revolutions it does not play a significant role. In other words, democracy can stop effectively violence only in revolutionary episodes caused by sociopolitical (but not ethno-nationalist) grievances.