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Democracy in Small StatesPersisting Against All Odds$
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Jack Corbett and Wouter Veenendaal

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198796718

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198796718.001.0001

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Democratization and Geography

Democratization and Geography

(p.119) 6 Democratization and Geography
Democracy in Small States

Jack Corbett

Wouter Veenendaal

Oxford University Press

Chapter 6 problematizes the conflicting arguments that proximity to democratic neighbours and islandness strongly affect democratic development. First, even though small states are extremely susceptible to external and regional influences, the argument that democracy is caused by demonstration effects does not fit (partially) authoritarian small states in ‘democratic’ Europe (i.e. Liechtenstein and Monaco), but also not the fully democratic small states in ‘undemocratic’ Africa (i.e. Cape Verde and São Tomé and Príncipe). Second, while most small states are islands, insularity can pose formidable obstructions to democratic performance, especially in remote archipelagic states such as Comoros, Kiribati, Maldives, FSM, Marshall Islands, and Seychelles. Relations between islands united in one political unit are often strongly antagonistic, posing a threat to political stability and democracy. We conclude that the ways elites frame external influence is the key factor, with the discourse of vulnerability acting as a powerful means of obtaining internal acquiescence.

Keywords:   democratization, islandness, small states, regions, demonstration effects, political geography, archipelagos

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