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Establishing democracy: A comparative analysis of the genesis and stabilisation of democracy in independent Ireland 1918-1937.

Kissane, William Vincent (1998) Establishing democracy: A comparative analysis of the genesis and stabilisation of democracy in independent Ireland 1918-1937. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This thesis consists of a comparative exploration of the sources of democratic stabilisation in independent Ireland. It asks whether comparative theories of the genesis and stabilisation of democracy explain the Irish experience of democratic stability after independence. Each chapter tests the explanatory power of a distinct theoretical approach within democratic theory. These theories can be divided into two categories : those that emphasise structural pre-conditions for democratisation and the stabilisation of democracy ; and those that emphasise the importance of elite variables in these processes. My conclusion is that the emergence of a democratic system in independent Ireland could have been predicted by macro-sociological theories of democratisation, but that the stabilisation of such a system after 1922 can be considered an example of a successful re-equilibration which occurred after the Fianna Fail party rose to power in 1932. In that process conscious democratising strategies were central. The Irish case vindicates the view that strong leadership is required for the solution of particularly intractable problems in democracies. What proved decisive was the conscious commitment of a majority of the Anti-Treaty section of the political elite to building a redesigned democratic system after the civil war. In that sense the Irish case vindicates the view that correct elite decisions and the appropriate elite values are the sine qua non of any stabilisation process. The stabilisation of a democratic system cannot therefore be considered an automatic product of the fact that the state had reached certain levels of socio-economic development by 1922. A high degree of modernity was a necessary but insufficient source of democratic stability. Rather a stable democratic outcome was due to the fact that the commitment of the political elites to the legitimisation of the political system by democratic means was sufficiently great for democracy to survive the crisis of the civil war and its aftermath.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2616

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