Where is democracy? Explaining the uneven democratic state performance within Peru

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study focuses on (uneven) democratic state performance across a territory. Using a single country study based in Peru, I will explore why regions have different levels of performance and why these disparities have been maintained over time. To explain this variation, I will use modernisation theory which highlights the role of socio-economic development as the explanatory variable that successfully explain this unevenness within the unitary state of Peru.

The overarching research question is what causes uneven democratic state performance across Peruvian regions? And why has this unevenness persisted over time? To address this question, I will focus the attention on modernisation theory. This process will mark the path that different regions took once democratisation and decentralisation were established. Those regions with higher levels of modernisation were those that after 16 years were still the ones with higher-level democratic state performance. The results will show that five from the top six regions were exactly the same in 2002 and 2018. To analyse the differences across space and time, I will consider a 16-year period starting in 2002 until 2018.

To address these questions this research will use a nested research analysis strategy. The first step is a quantitative approach. Confirmatory factor analysis will be performed to address the operationalisation of democratic state performance. Then a mapping of democratic state performance across Peruvian regions will be executed and this will establish the top/bottom regions. Following this mapping exercise an alternative hypothesis will be tested via a regression analysis to establish the main explanatory variable (modernisation). The second step would then be to use the qualitative approach. Here, a process tracing strategy will be implemented in the selected regions from the mapping exercise to uncover the mechanisms in play in the casual process to show how modernisation shaped democratic state performance.

In sum, the Peruvian case displays a sui generis situation where the political system went through two major processes – democratisation and decentralisation – that were in turn affected by previous modernisation and thus reshaped the state and the quality of its democracy at a subnational level.
Date of Award1 Feb 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorAnna Gwiazda (Supervisor) & Rod Dacombe (Supervisor)

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