An important and compelling book. Its scrupulous analysis of democratization in Germany and Poland in different historical periods is essential for understanding the conditions that make new democracies work. For anyone concerned with democracy this is a must read; it represents comparative research in political science at its best.
Winner of the 2007 Bronislaw Malinowski Social Sciences Award
As democracy has swept the globe, the question of why some democracies succeed while others fail has remained a pressing concern. In this theoretically innovative, richly historical study, Michael Bernhard looks at the process by which new democracies choose their political institutions, showing how these fundamental choices shape democracy's survival. Offering a new analytical framework that maps the process by which basic political institu-tions emerge, Bernhard investigates four paradigmatic episodes of democracy in two countries: Germany during the Weimar period and after World War II, and Poland between the world wars and after the fall of communism. Students of democracy will appreciate the broad applicability of Bernhard's findings, while area specialists will welcome the book's accessible and detailed historical accounts.
In his well-chosen and illuminating comparison of the sources and consequences of the design of political institutions, Michael Bernhard reminds political scientists—who have become increasingly reductionist in their studies—that politicians have complex interests, competing values, and contrasting ideas, that all of these factors and their interactions shape institutional choices, and that both these choices and the evolving economic and political context, both at home and abroad, are responsible for whether democracy survives or dies.