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Why would it be in the interest of the elites of certain country, which is an oligarchy or some form of an authoritarian regime to transition to democracy?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Ash, Ender Look, Aify, ArtificialSoul, sphennings Jul 26 '18 at 20:50

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ You are asking as if "the elites" were a homogeneous group with a single mind $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jul 26 '18 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ I would say that Sasha Baron Cohen's 2012 film The Dictator answers this question beautifully. Plus it's a good film. Goodbye odious dictator Admiral General Aladeen, subject of international economic sanctions and a target for regime change, and welcome to the totally democratically elected President Prime Minister Admiral General Aladeen, champion of human rights, a luminous example of forward thinking, a great ally and partner of the world's powers. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 26 '18 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry I'm VTCing as I feel any answers to this question are going to depend too much on the opinions of those answering as to the relative merits of democracy, for a start. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jul 26 '18 at 17:32
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A bunch of options, depending on what kind of story you want to tell in your setting.

  • Genuine concern for the so-called lower classes. Used to be that they were mostly illiterate, or mostly religious fanatics, or torn by tribal strife, but the authoritarian regime worked hard to overcome this and now it is time to introduce democracy. Happens in fairy tales.
  • Enlightened self-interest of the so-called elites. Authoritarian rule worked when it was a matter of five-year-plans to increase the steel production, but now it is a question of internet startups that might not even last five years. Educated citizens are leaving in ever-increasing numbers and they demand democracy if they are to stay.
  • Fear of a revolution if nothing is done, and a bid to translate power in the authoritarian system into wealth in a market economy. The market economy goes hand in hand with at least some democracy.
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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the "fear of revolution". This is how many existing monarchies survived transition to democracy. If the choice is a constitutional monarchy or guillotine, what will you do? $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jul 26 '18 at 17:48
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They can keep their power in a democracy by controlling key structures - the media, the judicial system and the corporations. Controlling these three systems they can make sure that all candidates that have chances of winning an election are members of the elites by controlling what the masses see, jailing and sueing outsiders and controlling the campaingn financing. And by becoming a "democracy" they will turn the democratic hegemon that was thinking about regime changing them from foe to friend, get some nice contract, some new factories and foreign money paying taxes and being extorted by the elite's judicial system.

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In an oligarchy, you retain power by dealing with and persuading your fellow oligarchs, who tend to be pretty sharp players. In a democracy, you retain power by dealing with and persuading the common people, many of whom are thick as posts.

For a would-be demagogue who finds it easier to control the masses than persuade other powerful figures, there's a strong (if very cynical) reason to support a push for democracy.

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It's desirable to have a large trained army, which means a lot of the lower classes get weapons and training, much like the English longbowmen. It's dangerous to have all those lower-class people be disaffected, so there will be a push toward democracy.

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