Defining and Domesticating the Electoral Model: A Comparison of Slovakia and Serbia
Bunce, Valerie; Wolchik, Sharon
How do political innovations move from one country to another, and how do they change as they make their cross-national journey? This paper addresses these under-studied questions in the literature on diffusion by comparing two applications of the electoral model of democratization—an approach to elections in semi-authoritarian settings that uses, for example, energetic campaigns and voter registration and turnout drives in order to defeat authoritarian incumbents or their anointed successors. The first case is Slovakia in 1998, and the second is Serbia in 2000. Several factors encouraged the cross-national spread of the electoral approach to democratization— the appeal of positive political precedents in the “neighborhood;” the modular character of the electoral model; and the formation of an activist transnational community supporting democratization through electoral change. While in both countries dictators were defeated, in Serbia massive protests were required to force Milosevic to respect the verdict of the voters. This contrast—between elections and elections combined with mass protest—speaks to the rather unusual combination in Serbia of a highly repressive political environment, yet a long history of popular mobilization.
Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies
Electoral Model; Slovakia; Serbia; Democracy; Mass Protest