Democracy Protests: Origins, Features, and Significance

Why do democracy protests emerge in some countries at certain times, but not in others? Why do governments accommodate these protests, undertaking sweeping reforms in some cases, and in others find ways to suppress protests? In Democracy Protests, Brancati highlights the role of economic crises in triggering protests. She argues that crises increase discontent with governments, and authoritarianism in particular, and also increase support for opposition candidates who are more likely to organize protests, especially during election periods. Economic crises are also shown to create chances for opportunists to capitalize on anti-regime sentiment and mobilize support against governments. However, if crises are severe and protests concomitantly large, governments are likely to be compelled to make accommodations with protestors, regardless of their likelihood of retaining office. Brancati’s argument rests on a rich statistical analysis of the causes and consequences of democracy protests around the globe between 1989 and 2011, combined with qualitative case studies.

About the Author

Dawn Brancati (PhD Columbia University, New York) is the author of Peace by Design (2008) and has published widely in leading academic and policy journals. Her research focuses on political violence and has been recognized with awards, fellowships, and grants from various institutions, including the American Political Science Association, the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University, New Jersey, the German Marshall Fund, the Harvard-MIT Data Center, and the National Science Foundation. She has taught at Harvard University, Massachusetts, Washington University, St Louis, and Columbia University, New York.

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