Toward a Democratic Civil Peace? Democracy, Political Change and Civil War 1816–1992

Journal article

Hegre, Håvard; Scott Gates; Nils Petter Gleditsch & Tanja Ellingsen (2001) Toward a Democratic Civil Peace? Democracy, Political Change and Civil War 1816–1992, American Political Science Review 95 (1): 33–48.

Coherent democracies and harshly authoritarian states have few civil wars, and intermediate regimes are the most conflict-prone. Political change also seems to be associated with domestic violence, regardless of whether that change is toward greater democracy or greater autocracy. Is the greater violence of intermediate regimes equivalent to the finding that states in political transition experience more violence? If both level of democracy and political change are relevant, to what extent is civil violence related to each factor? Based on an analysis of civil war in 152 countries in the period 1816–1992, we conclude that intermediate regimes are most prone to civil war, even when they have had time to stabilize from a regime change. In the long run, since intermediate regimes are less stable than autocracies and, in turn, autocracies less stable than democracies, durable democracy is the most probable end-point of the process of democratization. Thus, the democratic civil peace is not only more just than the autocratic peace, but also more stable.

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