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Keywords:

  • Conflicts;
  • democratization;
  • elites;
  • geography;
  • repression;
  • transition process
  • D74;
  • P26;
  • P36

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to analyse the effects of geography on the transition process in authoritarian political regimes, and to investigate the nature of the links between political change, economic reforms and geographical location. A simple model of transition and democratization is presented wherein we show that the effectiveness of repression by the incumbent elite is a negative function of the distance to the ‘free world’. In consequence, geography has conflicting effects on shifts in political power. This article provides a rationale for the counterintuitive fact that the first authoritarian country to start a transition process towards democratization is not necessarily the one nearest to the free world.