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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 Small Size

Democratization and Small Size

(p.144) 7 Democratization and Small Size
Democracy in Small States

Jack Corbett

Wouter Veenendaal

Oxford University Press

The previous chapters challenged mainstream democratization theory by highlighting small state divergence. Chapter 7 turns to the final explanation: that small states tend to be more democratic because they are small. Contra the strong statistical correlation between country size and democracy, we challenge the age-old demographic claim that ‘small is beautiful’. Small-sized states have highly personalized politics, and therefore accusations of nepotism and political patronage are ubiquitous. Accountability is strong among families but undermined in government by weak media and civil society organizations, and by the dominance of informal politics. Inherent conflicts of interest blur clear lines of accountability. International donors, including The World Bank, classify some small states as ‘failed’ or ‘failing’. Elsewhere, citizen disaffection with the way democracy is practiced has led to further decentralization. So, small can mean democratic, but often in a markedly illiberal way.

Keywords:   democratization, size, political demography, scale, personalization, small states, accountability, informal politics, decentralization

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