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Democracy and Islam: Implications for Civilizational Conflict and the Democratic Peace

Manus I. Midlarsky
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0020-8833.00093 485-511 First published online: 1 September 1998


The extent to which democracy and Islam are mutually exclusive is tested empirically with implications for civilizational conflict and the democratic peace. Three measures of democracy are used: a political rights index, an index of liberal democracy, and a measure based on institutionalization. Environmental variables such as sea borders and rainfall that minimize external threat to democratic systems are found to predict better to the more rudimentary political rights index, while cultural variables, including Islam in a negative direction, are more clearly associated with liberal democracy. The measure of democratic institutionalization behaves in a manner intermediate between the two. Divergence of the structures of explanation for these measures suggests that conclusions concerning the likelihood of war between democracies can depend on the specific index of democracy employed. The absence of a significant negative association between Islam and the political rights index under controlled conditions suggests that the probability of civilizational conflict is low.

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