Author (Your Name)

Melissa Maguire, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Government Dept.


Jennifer A. Yoder

Second Advisor

Ariel C. Armony


Countries, such as Argentina., India and Peru, that had previously failed in democratic attempts during the first and second waves are now obtaining consolidated democracies through elite pacted transition. However, elite pacted transition is only as strong and trustworthy as the actors who negotiate it. Engaging in this process is not a guarantee of success because the elite themselves are a complex variable, and their power ambitions, lack of familiarity with the process, or a refusal to compromise could cause breakdown. However, elite pacted transition has characterized many of the third wave successes, meaning that through elite pacts, countries have arrived upon procedural democracy. These successes lead to the questions: what is it that makes the successes successful? What are the mechanisms of elite pacts that allow for transition? These questions are important because the transition not only determines whether the country achieves democracy or returns to authoritarian rule, but also in the successful cases, the transition has implications for the early years of the new democracy. The actors in the interim government shape and imprint the democratic system that they produce. They design a system based on their preferences and ideas, and the new structures and institutions are reflections of the elite ideas and preferences. Understanding the motivations and preferences of actors, the mechanisms of transition, and the transition and negotiation environments, will aid in the comprehension of the new system. Elite pacts allow for an acclimation to the new democracy before it becomes the official system. During pacted transition, challengers are legally incorporated within the government and society, a relationship that was not possible in the former repressive regime. The mass public also test out their new channels of participation through parties, a multi-party system and elections. Reforma pactada-ruptura pactada provides stability by phasing out the old system while building the new. The transition acts of a time of adjustment so the society can learn the rights and forms of participation in the new system. To answer the central questions of what allows for success, this study will focus on three successes of the third wave, exploring the pre-conditions to their pacted transitions and the nature of the pact process in each country. Patterns will be drawn about the nature of their success, as well as an analysis of the implications the negotiations have on the transition. Before the transitions to democracy in Spain, Poland and Hungary can be explored, it is necessary to discuss relevant concepts related to the conducive conditions and dynamic variables of pacted transition, which generate several hypotheses to be tested in the three cases.


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Democratization -- Europe -- Case studies, Democratization -- History -- 20th century, Europe -- Politics and government, Spain -- Democracy, Hungary -- Democracy, Poland -- Democracy