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63 World Pol. 581 (2011)
Formal Constitutions in Informal Politics: Institutions and Democratization in Post-Soviet Eurasia

handle is hein.journals/wpot63 and id is 648 raw text is: 




       FORMAL CONSTITUTIONS IN

               INFORMAL POLITICS

        Institutions and Democratization in

                     Post-Soviet Eurasia

                          By HENRY E. HALE*




H     OW    do formal  institutions, rules that are officially and publicly
      codified by  the state in written  form,  impact  prospects  for de-
mocratization?   Most   answers  focus on institutional design during  the
transition process, studying how  constitutions and  legal frameworks  es-
tablish rules of the game that guide behavior  in ways facilitating demo-
cratic stability, progress, or breakdown.2 At  the same  time,  a growing
body   of work  implicitly or explicitly calls this entire enterprise into
question. The  scholars, often area specialists with deep country  knowl-
edge, provide  extensive evidence  that formal institutions rarely operate
as assumed.3  The  literature on hybrid regimes-political   systems  com-
bining  authoritarian and  democratic  elements-is   particularly eager to
stress the ways  in which  actual behavior deviates  from the  democratic
formal  content of a country's constitution and body  of law.4 What  mat-
ters instead is said to be informal politics, the real workings of politics,
those  unwritten  and  officially uncodified norms,  habits, and practices

   *The author thanks Li Bennich-Bjorkman, Christofer Berglund, Charlotta Friedner-Parrat,
Vsevolod Gunitskiy, Danielle Lussier, Israel Marques, Kelly McMann, Oxana Shevel, Oleksandr
Fisun, the journal's anonymous reviewers, and participants in Columbia University's Comparative
Politics Seminar, the Uppsala Forum at Uppsala University's Department of Government, and a work-
shop of the Program on New Approaches to Research and Security in Eurasia for helpful feedback
on earlier drafts.
   1 More specifically, informal institutions are socially shared rules, usually unwritten, that are cre-
ated, communicated, and enforced outside of officially sanctioned channels and formal institutions
are rules and procedures that are created, communicated, and enforced through channels widely ac-
cepted as official; Helmke and Levitsky 2004, 727.
   2 Some classics in this voluminous literature include the exchange on constitutional design in the
Journal of Democracy, republished in Diamond and Plattner 1996; Fish 2006; Linz and Stepan 1996;
Shugart and Carey 2002; Skach 2005.
    E.g., Bratton and van de Walle 1994; O'Donnell 1994; Wilson 2005b.
    E.g., Carothers 2002; Magaloni 2006; Schedler 2002; Way 2005.

WorldPolitics 63, no. 4 (October 2011), 581-617
Copyright ( 2011 Trustees of Princeton University
doi: 10.1017/S0043887111000189

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