Linz and Stepan: Problems of democratic transition and consolidation
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Linz and Stepan. 1996. Problems of democratic transition and consolidation. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
CONSOLIDATION: Put simply, democracy is consolidated when it becomes the "only game in town" (see pg 5 for what this means). They take this to mean three things. Behaviorally, no group is seriously engaged in secession or regime change. Attitudinally, most people accept that democracy is the best form of government (so not only does nobody try to change the regime, nobody particularly wants to). Constitutionally, democracy is consolidated when all the major organs of the state act according to the democratic institutions.
This means more than elections. There need to be five institutions (assuming, first of all, that there is a state): freedoms necessary for development of civil society (not just group memberships), an "autonomous and valued political society" (parties, elections, legislatures, etc.), rule of law (i.e. laws apply to leaders too), usable bureacracy (i.e. state capacity), and "institutionalized economic society" to mediate between the state and the market (pg 11). (pg 7 for list of all 5). See the chart on page 14 for a nice summary of all these "arenas."