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Democratization from Above
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Book description

Democratization from Above seeks to explain why some national and state governments in the developing world introduce reforms to make local governance more democratic while others neglect or actively undermine democracy at local levels of government. The study challenges conventional wisdom that local democratization is implemented as a means of granting more autonomy to local actors. Instead, Anjali Thomas Bohlken argues that local democratization offers higher level government elites who lack control over party organizational networks an alternative means of increasing the effectiveness of local intermediaries on whom these elites rely to mobilize political support. The book starts with a focus on India and uses original data, and a combination of qualitative and quantitative evidence, to show support for the argument. The study then relies on an original cross-national dataset to show how the argument helps explain the variation in the implementation of local democratization reforms across the developing world.

Reviews

'The logic of politics trumps economic advantages in explaining when and how democracy arises at the local level. Scholars and policymakers interested in decentralization reforms and deepening democracy would do well to heed the motivations driving national leaders that Bohlken demonstrates with the help of careful research.'

Anirudh Krishna - Duke University, North Carolina

'Democratization from Above represents a significant advance in our understanding of local democratization and democratic reversals. In tackling the question of why some government elite pursue and support local-level democratization while others neglect or actively undermine local democracy, Bohlken manages to both advance political science theory and also shed new light on puzzles specific to India. In doing so she convincingly demonstrates that local democracy cannot be understood as simply a by-product of national democracy.'

Allen Hicken - University of Michigan

'For billions of people around the world, local governments are far more relevant to their daily lives than their national leaders. But the design of these local governments varies considerably with meaningful consequences for citizens. Combining original cross-national data and detailed country-level case studies, Bohlken explains how democracy can be deepened and why such reforms matter for national politics.'

Irfan Nooruddin - Al Thani Chair in Indian Politics and Professor in the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and author of Elections in Hard Times (Cambridge, 2016)

'All in all, this is an excellent book that is built on innovative arguments, original and rich empirical data, and skilful analysis. It provides a new angle to understand the workings of local democratization in the developing world and rich evidence to change our existing perception of local democratization. Overall, the book will be of special interest to scholars and policymakers who are interested in local governance reforms in the developing world. In addition, the book’s mixed-method approach and skilful analysis of data at multiple levels makes it a useful example for those whose research inquiry requires a rich blend of qualitative and quantitative data at different levels.'

Ting Luo Source: Democratization

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