Mobilization in Military-Controlled Transitions: Lessons from Turkey, Brazil, and Egypt

In: Comparative Sociology
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  • 1 Department of Political Science and International Relations, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey
  • 2 Northwestern University, Evanston, USA

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How, and under what circumstances, does popular mobilization democratize military rule? Democratization does not always involve grassroots protest, but it is important to understand its role when it does. The authors make two propositions. First, mobilization can aid transitions, and forestall military tutelage regimes, by generating popular demands for democratization, altering politicians’ incentives and capacities to push for democracy, and establishing legacies that preserve and deepen democracy after civilians assume power. Elected civilians do not automatically challenge militaries or replace them with more accountable governance, if not so compelled from below. Second, mobilization is most likely to have a democratizing impact when it crosses social cleavages and develops organizational structures. When it reinforces cleavages, militaries easily denounce dissent as threatening national unity or security. When it lacks organization, it cannot translate disruptive power into transformation of state institutions. Comparative analysis of Brazil (1974-1999), Turkey (1980-2013), and Egypt (2011-2013) demonstrates these relationships.

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