Regime types and status quo evaluations: Power transition theory and the democratic peace

Douglas Lemke, William Reed

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


A tremendous amount of attention is paid to whether or not joint democracy precludes wars within dyads. Although there now seems to be some measure of consensus that democracies rarely or never fight one another, the scholarly debate continues to be heated, lengthy, and occasionally negative. Part of the reason why the democratic peace proposition has met so much opposition might lie in the threat it poses to many established theories of international relations. However, the empirical phenomenon of the democratic peace may be compatible with at least one established theory of international relations: power transition theory. If it can be shown that democracies evaluate the status quo similarly, then power transition theory predicts that wars between them should be exceedingly rare. Further, if non-democracies comprise the bulk of states dissatisfied with the status quo, then wars between democracies and non-democracies are to be expected. Regime type is tentatively linked to status quo evaluations in this article, suggesting that it may be possible to incorporate the empirical observation of a democratic peace within power transition theory. Rather than contradicting established theory, the results associated with the democratic peace might indicate how strong an influence the status quo plays in restraining international conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-164
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Interactions
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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