Democracy through Strength

―Asia’s Development and Democratization―

November 29, 2017 6:30 PM (finished)

Dan Slater

(University of Michigan)

Date/Time November 29, 2017 6:30 PM
Location Room 549 5th floor, Akamon Sogo Kenkyuto Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo  [map]
Abstract Contrary to theoretical expectations that authoritarian regimes are most likely to allow democratization as a last resort during times of extreme weakness, authoritarian regimes in Asia have often pursued democratic reforms as a proactive strategy from a position of considerable strength. This presentation discusses the historical forces that have facilitated democracy through authoritarian concession rather than authoritarian collapse in developmental Asia, as well as the dynamic processes through which authoritarian regimes have either brought it into being or failed to do so. Of central importance is the building up of an authoritarian ruling group’s “victory confidence” and “stability confidence” over time. After surveying how victory confidence and stability confidence have historically fostered democracy through strength in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Thailand, the presentation assesses prospects for ongoing reforms in Myanmar as well as potential future democratic reforms in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.
Bio Dan Slater, Professor of Political Science and incoming Director of the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED) at the University of Michigan, specializes in the politics and history of democracy and dictatorship, with a regional focus on Southeast Asia. The author of Ordering Power: Contentious Politics and Authoritarian Leviathans in Southeast Asia (Cambridge University Press, 2010), Slater is currently working with Joseph Wong on a book project that explores the phenomenon of “democracy through strength” in Northeast and Southeast Asia. Earlier articles on this project can be found in Perspectives on Politics, South East Asia Research, and the Journal of Democracy. Slater has also published in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, American Journal of Sociology, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, International Organization, and World Politics. He taught at the University of Chicago from 2005, when he received his PhD from Emory University, until 2017.