Over the last several decades, dozens of dictatorships have become democracies. Yet while each has held free and fair elections, they have varied in the extent to which their citizens realize the ideal of self-rule. Why do some democracies distribute power to citizens while other democracies withhold it? Existing research is suggestive, but its implications are ambiguous. Cross-national studies have focused on democracy's formal dimensions, while work on substantive democracy is case-based. We find that one of the most consistent and powerful explanations of substantive democratization is the length of unarmed pro-democratic mobilization prior to a transition. Through a case study of Brazil, we illustrate that these movements matter in three ways: first, because practices of self-organizing model and enable democratic reforms; second, because movement veterans use state office to deepen democracy; and third, because long movements yield civil societies with the capacity to demand the continuous deepening of democracy.


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pp. 1311-1338
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