Electoral competition is necessary but not sufficient for the consolidation of democratic regimes; not all elections are free and fair; nor do they necessarily lead to actual civilian rule or respect for human rights. If there is more to democracy than elections, then there is more to democratization than the transition to elections. But in spite of the rich literature on the emergence of electoral competition, the dynamics of political transitions toward respect for other fundamental democratic rights is still not well understood.
Political democracy is defined here in classic procedural terms: free and fair electoral contestation for governing offices based on universal suffrage, guaranteed freedoms of association and expression, accountability through the rule of law, and civilian control of the military. Although analyses of democratization typically acknowledge that these are all necessary criteria, most examine only electoral competition. This study, however, develops a framework for explaining progress toward another necessary condition for democratization respect for associational autonomy, which allows citizens to organize in defense of their own interests and identities without fear of external intervention or punishment.