I think Kalyvas makes a nice observation; one which I have had vaguely kicking around in my brain, but he puts quite nicely: an imperfect, but interesting and insightful, covariation.
Davenport’s point is that when we move away from binary classification (autocracy v democracy), we can observe some otherwise hidden variation in the democracy category. Kalyvas then asks whether anyone can think of post WW II examples that weaken the association, and offered the Paris massacre of 1961 as the only exception he could think of.
I offered the 2012 Lonmin Mines example from South Africa, though wondered whether we should consider single party rule governments (especially those with a super majority, as the ANC has had since the transition) in the same category as coalition governments. That thinking reveals the emphasis in my work upon constraints against majority rule: like James Madison, I argue that majority rule will not constrain state abuse (e.g., see here [blog post], here [PDF], here [gated]). Kalyvas seems to agree.
Kalyvas proposed a thought experiment, and Steve Saideman jumped in with an interesting observation about repetition.
I would like to offer this contribution to the discussion. In the US Jim Crow south local and state governments did respond very much like the Egyptian government, though with less use of gunfire: police would “stand down” while “local citizens” beat, bombed, and shot at civil rights marchers. And while there were democratic elections throughout the Jim Crow South (albeit absent black participation), there was only one party that had any chance of winning: it was single party, super majority rule at both the local and state level. As for the types of events I am referencing, the freedom-riders experience is but one well known example. Unfortunately, I cannot find the story I am looking for documenting one such incident in Tallahassee, though the 50 years after-the-fact apology by the local newspaper and this story provide some interesting context.
I envision two reasonable responses to argue that neither the Jim Crow South nor Northern Ireland make good examples. With respect to the Jim Crow South, the Egyptian state was (1) very public in its call for “public support” (aka vigilantism), and (2) it state agents much more liberally used gunfire than did the state in the Jim Crow South.
Turning to Northern Ireland, one might observe that the UK government is occupying that territory. In other words, it would be more akin to US troops in, say, Puerto Rico, than US national guard troops in Little Rock, AR or Oxford, MS. We can add Israeli military repression in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Northern Ireland example.
To summarize, I agree with Kalyvas’s that it is an insightful association, but I am always somewhat dubious about binary conceptualizations, especially of “democracy.” They are seductive due to their simplicity, and like Davenport, I worry that they conceal while they illuminate. I do not worry that scholars like Kalyvas will miss this point, but as the ideas diffuse broadly, that risk rises (likely non-linearly).