chapter  12
35 Pages

Hybrid regimes

What Tocqueville termed “mixed governments” are today called “hybrid regimes.” The mixed governments Tocqueville knew relied on such features as hereditary executives with significant powers and popularly elected assemblies to balance constitutionally contrary principles of legitimacy. Contemporary hybrid regimes also balance competing principles, but they do so in a different way. They have constitutions that

are nominally democratic, but these constitutions do not guarantee fully in practice what they promise in theory. Depending on how seriously they fail to implement the basic requirements of democratic governance, these regimes may be classified as either “semi-authoritarian” – seriously in violation of democratic norms – or “semi-democratic” – failing to live up to democratic norms but approximating democratic practices in many respects. But for either variety the problem is the same: how can contrary principles coexist in the same regime in a stable fashion?