Planting the Seeds of Change Inside? Functional Cooperation with Authoritarian Regimes and Socialization into Democratic Governance.

2012, World Political Science 8(1) [»].

Is functional cooperation with authoritarian regimes a blessing or a curse for democratization? Scholars predominantly view cooperation with authoritarian regimes as counterproductive in terms of democratization because it helps the incumbent government to remain in power by stabilizing the regime. This article presents evidence to suggest that functional cooperation can also be considered a promising way of yielding subtle processes of democratization that have hitherto been overlooked. It explores to what extent state officials become acquainted with democratic governance by participating in transgovernmental policy networks, notably the Twinning Program, set up by the European Union in order to implement functional cooperation with its Southern neighborhood. The study conducts regression analyses based on original survey data on Moroccan state officials’ attitudes toward democratic governance and complements these analyses with a qualitative comparison of different networks. The findings corroborate an optimistic reading of functional cooperation. By significantly shaping the attitudes toward democratic governance of involved state officials, cooperation appears to be able to plant seeds of change inside authoritarian regimes.


The World Political Science publishes prize-winning articles nominated by prominent national political science associations around the world, and translated into English.

This article was originally published as Freyburg, Tina 2011: Demokratisierung durch Zusammenarbeit? Funktionale Kooperation mit autoritären Regimen und Sozialisation in demokratischem Regieren, in: Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen 18(1): 5-46. Reprinted with permission from Zeitschrift fur Internationale Beziehungen.