Focus on elections: Remarks on the Contemporary Methodology for Classifying Non-Democratic Regimes

Stanislav Balík
Jan Holzer (holzer@fss_muni_cz)


This article describes and analyses current trends in classifying non-democratic regimes. A brief overview of the basic typologies (J. J. Linz, S. P. Huntington, W. Merkel) is given first. The article then focuses on the methodology currently used for classifying non-democratic regimes, one which is connected to a significant degree with the theory of so-called hybrid regimes. Placing a strong emphasis on the texts of L. Diamond, A. Schedler, S. Levitsky and L. A. Way, the authors attempt to illustrate the methodological consequences the application of this theory has for the relevant area of political science. The authors particularly concentrate on the exclusive role of the elections as a variable of classification, or, respectively, on the concept of elections as a criterion applied in a continuum between electoral democracies at the one end, and competitive authoritarianisms at the other. This paper provides a critical reflection on this approach and points out its methodological limits. According to the authors, elections can be used to discriminate between democracies and non-democracies, however, within the category of the non-democratic regime one needs to apply a different set of criteria in order to be able to discriminate further.

Keywords: Theory of non-democratic regimes, democracy, authoritarian regime, theory of hybrid regimes, liberal democracy, electoral democracy, pseudodemocracy, electoral authoritarianism, ambiguous regimes, competitive authoritarianism, hegemonic authoritarianism, minimum criteria for democracy.