International trade ties and democracy in the post-Soviet world-system
Balaev, Mikhail, 1976-
This dissertation examines the relationship between democracy and international economic ties. The effects of economic processes on domestic politics have long been a subject for debate in the literature: some authors argue that economic liberalization advances democracy, while others advocate that economic liberalization impedes democracy. I argue that both sides of the debate omitted an important factor in the analyses of trade ties and democracy. The empirical studies predominantly used the volumes of international trade, without analyzing the structural position of trade partners in the international political arena. I argue that it is not how much a country trades, but the kind of states it trades with that determines its democracy. I analyze the current theories of democracy and identify that the main weakness of these theories is the inability to incorporate international processes and globalization in the analysis of democratization. I show that World-Systems theory (WST) can improve current theories of democracy. I employ WST and a number of alternative theories to create theoretical models of democracy. I then discuss the relevance of the former Soviet states to WST and to the analysis of democracy. I further construct a panel data set and apply pooled time-series regression, using three indexes of democracy as the dependent variables and two sets of theoretically distinct control variables. I find a negative relationship between core-periphery trade and democracy, and a positive relationship between trade openness and democracy in the periphery, which supports my main argument that trade ties must be reexamined based on the structural position of the trade partners. Contrary to conventional application of WST, the structure of the core-periphery trade shows that the core uses its economic ties to politically exploit the periphery, not the other way around. Hence, international trade is identified as a major tool for the modern hegemonies to broaden their political influence. Lastly, I found that both within- and between-states sets of control variables had influential predictors, which points out that modern theories of democracy must be restructured to incorporate multiple international processes in the analysis of the domestic politics of a state.