Institutional Sequencing and Regime Stability: The Case of Germany, 1871-1933

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Scholars of historical democratization have long debated the impact of institutional sequencing on regime outcomes, with most focused on the importance of the relative timing of suffrage vis-à-vis other features of democratic development. In this paper, we examine the impact of the “reverse sequence” using the case of German political development in which suffrage was introduced before both parliamentarization and liberalization. We argue that this sequence had a significant impact on the nature of party formation as well as patterns of inter-party conflict and cooperation. In particular, it introduced an enduring “regime dimension” to politics which often interrupted the typical patterns of legislative coalitions on substantive policy matters. We adopt an integrative mixed-method research design combining network analysis of roll call votes with critical juncture analysis and process tracing in key historical episodes. We conclude that the path dependent development of inter-party alliances and antagonisms, which shaped prospects for legislative coalitions, ultimately led to democratic breakdown. The analysis sheds light on the significance of institutional sequencing in historical democratizers, with important implications for contemporary emerging democracies.
Discussant: Valerie Belu (Oxford)