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ELITES AND CIVIL SOCIETY ACTORS THE INSTRUMENTS FOR A SUCCESSFUL DEMOCRATIC TRANSITION Because of its uniqueness in every case predicting the importance of elites and popular actors in a successful democratic transition from authoritarian rule is as impossible as trying to predict the day in which a baby will take its first steps But despite the unpredictability of their nature elite and popular actors share a vital role in the fight towards democracy they are the force that incites and pushes the transition Both actors may not be present in every transition and their interests and type of action may not be the same but their importance stems from the fact that they represent the desires of the oppressed Elites and popular actors either independently or in conjunction bring about transition and democratization with their consistent opposition and their will to overcome an oppressive regime According to ODonnell and Schmitter when an authoritarian regime begins to redefine and extend rights that protect individuals and social groups from arbitrary or illegal acts committed by the state or third parties liberalization has begun This liberalization may be the result of elite negotiations and pacts popular opposition and resistance or both Elite pacts and negotiations are not a necessary feature of a successful transition but they can play an important role in the transition because it allows for a gradual change instead of a dramatic event ODonnell 37 This occurs because at the heart of the pact there is a negotiated compromise where the actors have agreed to give up their capacity to harm each other by extending the guarantees not to threaten each others vital interest and in doing so they open the way for a change in the type of government without a violent confrontation Pacts are a compromise between the elites because no social or political gro up is sufficiently dominant to impose all of its desires on everyone else A good
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