edX MOOC – Global Campus of Human Rights (2023)

Lecturer at edX MOOC

Title: Transitology – Pathways to and from Democracy

At: Global Campus of Human Rights, coordinated by Anja Mihr

Date: Online, March 2023


Speakers: Damir Kapidzic (University of Sarajevo); Anja Mihr (OSCE Academy in Bishkek)

MOOC Lecturers and Experts: Arusyak Aleksanyan (Yerevan State University), Mozn Hassan (Right Livelihood Laureate 2016), Wolfgang Merkel (WZB), Thomas Millar (European Commission), Leonardo Morlino (LUISS), Jacqueline Moudeina (Right Livelihood laureate 2011), Pippa Norris (Harvard University)


Transitology is a concept and analytical framework applied in political and social science to analyse and assess political regime change and the subsequent consolidation process of democratic institutions, such as parliamentarians, elections, civil society, or the rule of law. It explains the different pathways how democratic institutions and regimes slowly consolidate and strengthen over time. Transitology also explains why weak and corrupted democratic institutions fail and backslide into authoritarian political practices and, subsequently, autocracies.

Such processes of transition and democratisation (transitology) have been seen, for example, in countries and societies in Europe after WWII in 1945, during and after the decolonisation process in Africa and Latin America in the 1960s, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Not all have been successful, and many are today authoritarian regimes or electoral democracies, if at all.

Regime change and the transition from one regime type and mode of governance to another do not say much about whether a regime is democratic or whether the rule of law, human rights, or good governance principles are adhered to. What consolidates and successfully transforms democratic institutions into ‘stable democracies’ are the pathways of participatory, inclusive, and trustworthy adherence and compliance with democratic rules and human rights. If that is not the case, the regime never becomes democratic in the first place. Regimes that have a short, decade-long experience of democratic elections but do not further strengthen the rule of law and civil society or non-partisan media become dysfunctional and most likely backslide into authoritarian rulership – as seen in many countries, including post-soviet Russia or post-colonial countries such as Nigeria, and post-junta regimes such as Venezuela.