The Two Sides of Functional Cooperation with Authoritarian Regimes: A Multi-level Perspective on the Conflict of Objectives between Political Stability and Democratic Change.

2012, Democratization 19(3): 575-601 [»].
-> reprinted in: J. Leininger, S. Grimm and T. Freyburg (eds) Do All Good Things Go Together? Conflicting Objectives in Democracy Promotion. Routledge.

Development cooperation exemplifies the conflict of foreign policy objectives between short-term political stability and long-term democratic change that international actors face in their relations with authoritarian regimes. Previous studies have found empirical evidence for two seemingly contradictory effects of functional cooperation: democratization and the stabilization of authoritarian regimes. Taking EU–Morocco cooperation on water management as an example, this article demonstrates that the effect of functional cooperation depends on the level of policy-making examined. Although cooperation may stabilize an authoritarian regime at the macro-level of the overall polity by contributing to the effective handling of economic and social grievances (output legitimacy), it can also introduce democratic governance at the level of state administration (input legitimacy). Methodologically, the article applies both multivariate regression analyses and qualitative comparative case studies in order to explore data from diverse sources including an original survey of Moroccan state officials, interviews with governmental and non-governmental representatives, and legal texts. The article points to the complexity of the effects that external activities can have on governance in recipient countries, and highlights the importance of improving our knowledge of the more indirect effects of functional cooperation at levels below the overall polity.