Lynne Rienner Publishers Logo

Dilemmas of Democratic Consolidation: A Game-Theory Approach

Jay Ulfelder
Dilemmas of Democratic Consolidation: A Game-Theory Approach
ISBN: 978-1-935049-18-0
2010/177 pages/LC: 2010005300
A FirstForumPress Book
"A readable, well-written book that asks a very interesting question and takes a fruitful, multimethod approach to advancing the study of democratization."—Scott Moser, Perspectives on Politics

"Clear and approachable theory, analysis, and case studies.... Ulfelder's original cross-national dataset of democratic failures is also a strong contribution."—Gretchen Casper, Pennsylvania State University


Why have so many attempts at democracy in the past half-century failed? Confronting this much discussed question, Jay Ulfelder offers a novel explanation for the coups and rebellions that have toppled fledgling democratic regimes and that continue to threaten many new democracies today.

Ulfelder draws on an original dataset of 110 democratic failures spanning 1955–2007 and also presents analytic narratives for six cases (Cyprus, Fiji, Spain, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela) to illustrate why some governments survive while others collapse. Focusing on political parties and the military as key players in the "democracy game," he sheds light on the pathways by which new democracies slide all too often from founding elections to polarization and breakdown.


Jay Ulfelder is an independent scholar focusing on democratization and political instability.


  • Introduction.
  • The Democracy Game.
  • How Fragile Is Democracy? Patterns in Cross-National Data.
  • How Does Democracy Break Down? Evidence from Random Narratives.
  • Exploring Confounding Cases.
  • Implications for Democracy Promotion.
  • Conclusion.
  • Appendix: Episodes of Democracy, 1995-2007