The United States and Europe haven’t been as successful as they wished in helping nations become more democratic. But some specific programs have meaningfully increased the chance that a country will transition to democracy.
Here’s one group: programs that educate and familiarize leaders from transitioning countries with democratic rules and principles.
In a recent study, political scientists Thomas Gift and Daniel Krcmaric argue that “leaders educated at Western universities are more likely to democratize than other leaders.”
This matters because, as other political scientists show, elites play a significant role in fostering and consolidating democracy, so the chances of reversal to authoritarian tendencies are minimal if any. The more elites identify with democracy by invoking democratic rules in their discourse and policies, the more likely it is that a country will transition to democracy.
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