The Martial Origins of Democracy: A Global Study of Military Conscription and Suffrage Extensions Since the Napoleonic Wars

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Abstract

This article examines the relationship between conscription (the compulsory enlistment of civilians for military service) and democracy. Using the best available cross-country comparable data on the history of conscription and democracy, we demonstrate that there is an empirical relationship between conscription and democratization, but the relationship is more complicated than commonly believed. Specifically, we find that conscription increases the likelihood of male suffrage extensions, but only in wartime (when the conscript army is mobilized). We find no relationship between conscription and democratization apart from extensions of suffrage. Nor do we find support for the hypothesis that conscription shelters democracies from coups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-651
Number of pages19
JournalDemocratization
Volume25
Issue number4
Early online date2017 Dec 12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jan

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Keywords

  • Conscription
  • coups
  • democracy
  • suffrage
  • wars

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