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Explaining Irish Democracy

This is a systematic account of why Ireland remained democratic after independence. Bill Kissane analyzes the Irish case from a comparative international perspective and by discussing it in terms of the classic works of democratic theory. Each chapter tests the explanatory power of a particular approach, and the result is a mixture of political history, sociology, and political science. Taking issue with many conventional assumptions, Kissane questions whether Irish democracy after 1921 was really a surprise, by relating the outcome to the level of socio-economic development, the process of land reform, and the emergence of a strong civil society under the Union. On the other hand, things did not go according to plan in 1922, and two chapters are devoted to the origins and nature of the civil war. The remaining chapters are concerned with analyzing how democracy was rebuilt after the civil war; Kissane questions whether that achievement was entirely the work of the pro-Treatyites.Indeed, by focusing on the continued divisiveness of the Treaty issue, the nature of constitutional republicanism, and the significance of the 1937 constitution, Kissane argues that Irish democracy was not really consolidated until the late 1930s, and that that achievement was largely the work of de Valera.

304 pages


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Table of Contents

Democratic theory and the Irish Free State economic development and democracy in Ireland the Barrington Moore thesis and Irish political development civil society and democratic practice under the union voluntarist democratic theory and the origins of the civil war the Durkheimian interpretation of the Civil War reshaping the Free State - De Valera and the rise of constitutional republicanism "Majority rule" and the constitutional development of the Free State 1922-37.

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