Understanding Democratic Congruence: A Demand-Supply Perspective
Congruence theory suggests that democratic institutions are supplied on a level that is congruent with mass demands for democracy. Recently this claim has been disconfirmed by showing that the cross-country correlation between the institutional supply of democracy and mass demands for democracy is weak. But this finding is flawed because of inflated measurements that give an embellished picture of many societies’ democratic reality. To validate this point we demonstrate that standard measures of both the institutional supply of democracy and of mass demands for democracy are often seriously deflated as one weights them by characteristics relevant to democracy in practice. These weighting procedures yield “effective” institutional supplies of democracy and “genuine” mass demands for democracy, providing a more realistic picture of a society’s state of democracy. Using these realistic measures, congruence between the institutional supply of democracy and mass demands for democracy becomes much more strongly evident, reconfirming congruence theory. Further evidence suggests that democratic congruence is rather a development-driven than an institutionally-inherited phenomenon. The article concludes with a discussion of this finding in a typological framework of democratization.