In this ambitious book, Eva Bellin examines the dynamics of democratization in late-developing countries where the process has stalled. Bellin focuses on the pivotal role of social forces and particularly the reluctance of capital and labor to champion democratic transition, contrary to the expectations of political economists versed in earlier transitions. Bellin argues that the special conditions of late development, most notably the political paradoxes created by state sponsorship, fatally limit class commitment to democracy. In many developing countries, she contends, those who are empowered by capitalist industrialization become the allies of authoritarianism rather than the agents of democratic reform.
Bellin generates her propositions from close study of a singular case of stalled democracy: Tunisia. Capital and labor's complicity in authoritarian relapse in that country poses a puzzle. The author's explanation of that case is made more general through comparison with the cases of other countries, including Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and Egypt. Stalled Democracy also explores the transformative capacity of state-sponsored industrialization. By drawing on a range of real-world examples, Bellin illustrates the ability of developing countries to reconfigure state-society relations, redistribute power more evenly in society, and erode the peremptory power of the authoritarian state, even where democracy is stalled.