Fewer than twenty years ago, the Central and East European countries that have now joined the European Union were the “other Europe.” They were bankrupt and famished. Their citizens had to deal with empty store shelves, the lack of any right to a passport, and a formidable communist secret service spying on their private lives. Since the Soviet collapse, however, these nations have reshaped their economies and societies and have gained membership in the EU and NATO. Foreign investment is pouring in, and what is left of the secret-service files has been opened to the public. In the textbooks on democratic transition, Central and Eastern Europe provides the model of success. Yet in Brussels — the new benevolent metropolis of these countries on the European periphery — concern over the politics of the new members has been mounting. Thus we need to seek an explanation as to why there is growing concern for these countries when in many ways they seem to be performing so well.
In a time when elections are sometimes hailed as the hallmark and instruments of democracy they have increasingly become the object of severe skepticism in the scholarly community. Similar to announcing "The King is Dead" Carothers argued in a contribution to this journal the transition paradigm had passed away with evidence showing elections to be insignificant in furthering democracy. Meanwhile, governments and donors around the world provide core funding to electoral processes as often the main support to democracy. This begs the question if the holding of elections facilitate, or even generate democratic qualities in society as well, or, are elections at best reflections of democracy? "Long live the King" is the message of this article building on an analysis of 232 elections in Africa during the third wave of democratization probing the ability of elections to institute, broaden and deepen democracy beyond the political arena and the political system as such. The argument is that an uninterrupted series of elections in anyone country tends to cause society outside of the political system being imbued with democratic qualities. It presents evidence that the mere repetition of multiparty elections - regardless whether they are free and fair or not - leads to increases in human freedom and the spread of democracy.
Journal of Democracy 7.3 (1996) 94-107
Democratization is the order of the day in the Third World, but aside from certain Latin American countries where it seems to have succeeded, it is everywhere running into difficulties. These challenges need to be analyzed in relation to the history of each country, taking into account specific political, cultural, and ideological circumstances. There is assuredly no universal model of democratic transition that one can recommend to all Third World countries, which is why we must evaluate obstacles to democratization on a case-by-case basis.
Algeria is an interesting case precisely because in February 1989, just months after the October 1988 riots that cost nearly a thousand lives, the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) embarked on a series of reforms, changing the Constitution to allow multipartism and alternation in power by means of elections. Yet the legalization of multipartism mainly benefited the Islamists organized into the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), which carried both the June 1990 local elections and the first round of the December 1991 national legislative races. The military suspended the process and nullified the first-round results in January 1992. Next, it forced President Chadli Benjedid to resign. Since then, Algeria has plunged into murderous strife that already has claimed more than 60,000 lives.
In January 1995, six groups (including the three major contenders -- the FLN, the FIS, and the Socialist Forces Front or FFS) met in Rome to sign a pact aimed at ending the crisis. The military rejected this Rome Platform and ordered a presidential election for November 1995. This vote, which capped the first contested presidential election since Algeria gained its independence from France in 1962, went ahead as scheduled on November 16. Even though the principal opposition parties (most notably the FIS and the FFS) refused to participate, the balloting raised high expectations among voters, who hoped that incumbent president Liamine Zeroual (a retired general and the army's designated candidate) would emerge with strengthened legitimacy and be able to make the military accept a political solution similar to the one outlined in the Rome Platform.
On election day, three-quarters of the country's 16 million eligible voters turned out, and Zeroual won a 61 percent majority. Although widely hailed as a success, this election actually has solved nothing. Zeroual has not been able to assert control over the army, the national dialogue that he promised has broken down, and deadly violence continues to rage. In May 1996, the president promised legislative elections for early 1997, but the opposition parties dismissed his announcement as a maneuver to buy time.
In this essay, I will first explain the inner logic of Algeria's political system by examining its structure and the crisis in which it is currently embroiled, and then look at the dynamics of the various oppositions it has set in motion: 1) the internal opposition within the regime, 2) the Islamist opposition, and 3) the democratic opposition.
To comprehend what is happening today in Algeria, one must consider the historical and ideological foundations of the power of the state as it emerged from the war of national liberation, which made the army the country's legitimacy-granting authority. The contradiction that has led the regime toward the current violence is its inability to endow itself with legitimate leadership -- an inability that has propelled the Islamists into the resulting gap, which has existed ever since the death of President Houari Boumedienne in 1978.
The legitimacy upon which any system of power rests is a principle that is forged in the history of each country. In Algeria, it is inseparable from the struggle that the national liberation movement waged against French colonial domination in the 1950s and early 1960s. The army holds the key to political legitimacy by virtue of the very fact that national sovereignty was wrested from France by the Army of National Liberation, whose heir was the National Popular Army. This situation brought about a splitting of the state's power that would have deleterious consequences for the state's provision of services and the efficiency of its decision making...
This essay charts the prominent role of the Catholic Church in the Third Wave of democratization. It then offers an explanation for why the Church was an effective democratizer in some places but not in others, one based on the concepts of differentiation and political theology.
Journal of Democracy 9.2 (1998) 91-107
During the past quarter-century, the "third wave" of global demo-cratization has brought more than 60 countries around the world from authoritarian rule toward some kind of democratic regime. This is no small achievement, of course, but it has also become apparent that sustaining democracy is often a task as difficult as establishing it. In the immediate aftermath of all these democratic transitions, pressing concerns have quickly arisen about how to strengthen and stabilize these new regimes. With the extension of democracy to additional countries now having slowed, political scientists -- and political actors in new democracies -- have been increasingly focusing on what has come to be called "democratic consolidation."
Originally, the term "democratic consolidation" was meant to describe the challenge of making new democracies secure, of extending their life expectancy beyond the short term, of making them immune against the threat of authoritarian regression, of building dams against eventual "reverse waves." To this original mission of rendering democracy "the only game in town," countless other tasks have been added. As a result, the list of "problems of democratic consolidation" (as well as the corresponding list of "conditions of democratic consolidation") has expanded beyond all recognition. It has come to include such divergent items as popular legitimation, the diffusion of democratic values, the neutralization of antisystem actors, civilian supremacy over the military, the elimination of authoritarian enclaves, party building, the organization of functional interests, the stabilization of electoral rules, the routinization of politics, the decentralization of state power, the introduction of mechanisms of direct democracy, judicial reform, the alleviation of poverty, and economic stabilization.
At this point, with people using the concept any way they like, nobody can be sure what it means to others, but all maintain the illusion of speaking to one another in some comprehensible way. While "democratic consolidation" may have been a nebulous concept since its very inception, the conceptual fog that veils the term has only become thicker and thicker the more it has spread through the academic as well as the political world. If it is true that "[n]o scientific field can advance far if the participants do not share a common understanding of key terms in the field," then the study of democratic consolidation, at its current state of conceptual confusion, is condemned to stagnation. The aspiring subdiscipline of "consolidology" is anchored in an unclear, inconsistent, and unbounded concept, and thus is not anchored at all, but drifting in murky waters. The use of one and the same term for vastly different things only simulates a shared common language; in fact, the reigning conceptual disorder is acting as a powerful barrier to scholarly communication, theory building, and the accumulation of knowledge.
I believe that we can order and comprehend the multiple usages and meanings of "democratic consolidation" by looking at the concrete realities as well as the practical tasks the term is meant to address. The meaning that we ascribe to the notion of democratic consolidation depends on where we stand (our empirical viewpoints) and where we aim to reach (our normative horizons). It varies according to the contexts and the goals we have in mind.
When students of democratization seek to classify regimes, the key distinction, of course, runs between those that are democratic and those that are not (the latter often generically labeled as "authoritarian"). The most widely accepted criteria for identi-fying a country as democratic have been put forward by Robert Dahl -- civil and political rights plus fair, competitive, and inclusive elections. Dahl calls countries that meet these criteria "polyarchies," but they are more commonly referred to as "liberal democracies."
Two other subtypes of democracy have gained wide recognition in the scholarly literature on new democracies. On the one hand, there are all those borderline cases that possess some but not all of liberal democracy's essential features, and therefore fall somewhere in between democracy and authoritarianism. I call such semidemocratic regimes "electoral democracies." This term is now generally used to describe a specific type of semidemocracy -- one that manages to hold (more or less) inclusive, clean, and competitive elections but fails to uphold the political and...
Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan all have presidential systems, and in recent years have experienced many of the ills attributed to presidentialism by critics like Juan Linz, such as weak legitimacy, rigid terms, deadlock with the legislature, and efforts to impeach unpopular presidents. This article concludes that while Asian presidentialism manifests some of the problems of other presidential systems, it is not an institution in crisis as each country has used its democratic institutions, and particularly constitutional courts, to resolve these problems. Indeed, presidential systems better reflect underlying structural shifts in politics and are more likely to promote rapid political change than parliamentary ones.
Many books and essays on nations and nationalism underscore the importance of ethnic and cultural factors, but typically play down the political factor. In my view, however, a nation is first of all the political arrangement of a human collectivity, and this feature has not been emphasized as much as it deserves to be. The failure of postcolonial countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East underlines that the making of a nation rests not only on ethnic, linguistic, and religious self-identity, but also on the formation and consolidation of a public sphere in which citizens have the feeling of participating in the polity and of being integrated into the sphere of the state. Nationalist ideology gives birth to a nation only if that ideology allows the shaping of a public sphere in which the citizen is perceived under the aspect of his universality and not solely under that of his specific cultural identity.
The inability of many Third World nationalisms to ensure political participation satisfactory to the broad majority calls into question the relationship between nationalism and the nation. Social scientists have been too quick to embrace the notion that as soon as a country becomes independent, it constitutes a nation. It may, of course, but most often a nation is the result of a long historical process during which consensual values emerge to furnish grounds for national concord and civil peace. This is not the picture presented today by most Third World countries, where obedience to the central power is secured by force or the threat of force.
We face then a problem of definition. Either all political collectivities are nations insofar as they endow themselves with a central power, or [End Page 110] only those that grant their citizens effective participation in the polity truly deserve to be called nations. Properly understood, the idea of the nation is strongly connected to the idea of civil peace, which presupposes that a broad majority freely give their allegiance to the central power and feel that they participate in the polity. If this feeling is not broadly shared, if allegiance flows mainly from fear, it makes little sense to speak of a nation. In this light, most political collectivities in the Third World are still engaged in nation-building, searching for institutions that will ensure allegiance to the central power without resort to methods such as the arrest and torture of opponents, prohibitions of speech, and the like.
The nation, a historical category that first appeared in the modern West, is a collection of individuals with a form of political organization based on a strong sense of participation in the activities of the state. A nation is integrated through institutions that allow participation in the political realm, notably through elections. It is a human collectivity whose particular historical circumstances have endowed it with geographical frontiers that set it apart from its neighbors. It makes use of a political organization that grounds the legitimacy of power, and it establishes rules for the operation and distribution of this power through an administrative hierarchy that is accepted by the members of the collectivity. A nation is a modern political concept for two reasons: it is a collection of free individuals (free vis-à-vis traditional authorities and lineages), and it is a political system that allows these individuals to participate in the power of the state by swearing exclusive political allegiance solely to that state. This effective participation (betokened by universal suffrage in the choice of local and national representatives) that marks a nation is basically different from the fictive participation that obtains in the case of a political community integrated by means of belief in a charismatic leader who claims to “represent” the people.
I start, then, from the premise that a nation is a political community whose political arena has been pacified. The successful pacification of the political arena hinges upon the nature of the competition for power. A political community that changes governments through the shedding of blood is not yet a nation, and neither is one that changes presidents only when one happens to die in office. The use of...
There has been more protest in the Chinese countryside than might have been expected in the repressive months following June 4, 1989. This unrest has been triggered in part by that staple of contentious politics research: opportunity. Leadership has also played a role. How they are perceived by their followers and interested onlookers is critical for protest organizers. Social recognition can steel an activist's resolve and lead to more protest. Violence has also been on the rise of late, as have unplanned, accidental protests that rapidly take on a life of their own. But is rural China likely to explode? Not likely. Organization remains low and cross-class cooperation is still rare. Claims tend to be circumscribed and popular action is usually small-scale and local. That national leaders tolerate so much contention is actually an indicator of their confidence. Should the Center begin to treat farmers' grievances like those of Tibetans and Falun Gong supporters, then we will know that the leadership is shaken and the regime is weakening.
Nelson Mandela’s death was followed by an outpouring of tributes in his honor. South Africa’s Mail & Guardian published one entitled “We Thank God for Madiba” by Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town who earned a Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end apartheid. F.W. de Klerk, the president of South Africa (1989–94) who helped to negotiate apartheid’s end and later became deputy president in the Mandela administration, issued a statement on the website of his foundation. U.S. president Barack Obama, who considers Mandela a hero, delivered a speech at the memorial service for Mandela on December 10 in Johannesburg. Excerpts from their tributes appear below:
Some have said Mandela’s 27 years in jail were a waste, suggesting that if he had been released earlier he would have had more time to weave his charm of forgiveness and reconciliation. I beg to differ.
He went to jail an angry young man, incensed by the miscarriage of justice in the travesty of the Rivonia Trial. He was no peacemaker. After all, he had been MK [the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC)] commander and intended to overthrow apartheid by force.
The 27 years were absolutely crucial in his spiritual development. The suffering was the crucible that removed considerable dross, giving him empathy for his opponents. It helped to ennoble him, imbuing him with magnanimity difficult to gain in other ways. It gave him an authority and credibility that otherwise would have been difficult to attain. No one could challenge his credentials. He had proved his commitment and selflessness through what he had undergone. He had the authority and attractiveness that accompany vicarious suffering on behalf of others—as with Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.
We were spellbound on Sunday, February 11, 1990, when the world came to a standstill and waited for him to emerge from prison. When he came out with Winnie by his side we were united in our admiration. What bliss to be alive, to experience that moment! We felt proud to be human because of this amazing man. For a moment, we all believed that it is possible to be good.
South Africa has lost one of its founding fathers and one of its greatest sons. … In the years that followed [his release from prison], it was an honor for me to have been able to work with Mr. Mandela in the process that led to the adoption of the interim constitution and our first democratic elections in April 1994. Although we were political opponents—and although our relationship was often stormy—we were always able to come together at critical moments to resolve the many crises that arose during the negotiation process.…
In the concession speech that I made after the ANC’s victory in our first non-racial election on 27 April 1994, I congratulated Mr. Mandela on the role that he had played during the negotiations:
“Mr. Mandela will soon assume the highest office in the land with all the awesome responsibility which it bears. He will have to exercise this great responsibility in a balanced manner which will assure South Africans from all our communities that he has all their interests at heart. I am confident that this will be his intention. Mr. Mandela has walked a long road, and now stands at the top of the hill. A traveler would sit and admire the view. But the man of destiny knows that beyond this hill lies another and another. The journey is never complete. As he contemplates the next hill, I hold out my hand to Mr. Mandela—in friendship and in cooperation.”
During his presidency, Mr. Mandela did indeed use his great responsibility to assure South Africans from all our communities that he had all their interests at heart. He made a unique contribution not only to the establishment of our constitutional democracy but also to the cause of national reconciliation and nation-building. Even in his well-deserved retirement he continued to be a force for reconciliation and social justice—not only in South Africa, but throughout the world...
The eminent Polish philosopher, Leszek Kolakowski, who had a major influence on the development of the Polish democratic opposition, died on 17 July 2009. A memorial symposium entitled "Democracy, Totalitarianism, and the Culture of Freedom" was held in his honor at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, D.C., on October 15. Kolakowski had been a founding member of the Journal of Democracy's Editorial Board and had spoken at several major NED conferences. His thinking influenced the Endowment's strategy in Central and Eastern Europe.
The event was introduced by NED president Carl Gershman and moderated by former U.S. national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Other speakers included NED vice-president Nadia Diuk, longtime director of NED programs in Central Europe and Eurasia; Richard Pipes, Baird Professor Emeritus of History at Harvard University; George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; and Abbas Milani, Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University.
A second memorial symposium was held on October 24 at the University of Warsaw, organized by the Stefan Batory Foundation. Moderated by Aleksander Smolar, it featured as speakers Jerzy Szacki, professor emeritus of the University of Warsaw; philosophy professor Jan Andrzej Kłoczowski, O.P.; and Jerzy Jedlicki, professor at the Historical Institute at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Tadeusz Mazowiecki, the former prime minister of Poland (1989–91), sent an audio message. At the conclusion, Carl Gershman presented NED's Democracy Service Medal to Kolakowski's widow, Tamara Kolakowska, and read a tribute that accompanied it.
A video of the NED symposium is available at www.ned.org/events/kolakowski.html, and an audio recording of the Warsaw symposium is available at www.batory.org.pl/debaty/Kolakowski.htm. Selected excerpts from speeches at these two events appear below:
Nadia Diuk: In an article entitled "In Stalin's Countries: Theses on Hope and Despair," Kolakowski dissected the operations of what he called alternately the communist social system, bureaucratic socialism, socialist despotism, or monopolistic power. Even though he was referring to the Soviet model of socialism, his analysis of the way a totalitarian regime seeks to exercise power relates to all kinds of despotisms and thus is decidedly relevant today. "The natural need of despotism," he wrote, "is to terrify individuals while depriving them of the means of organized resistance." He elaborated further, applying his well-honed skills in dialectical reasoning: "If this concentration of power is a source of strength, it also conceals weaknesses." This was his main thesis: the paradox that the more a regime tries to assert control over political and social life, the weaker it becomes, "deprived of plasticity and self-regulatory devices," as he put it. He had thus turned Marxist dialectics on its head. . . .
By poking holes in the totalitarian monolith and highlighting weaknesses in the system, Kolakowski identified areas where opponents of the system could work and how society could organize in its own self-defense. These ideas were elaborated further by Jacek Kuroń, who added the idea of "self-organization" by society, and Adam Michnik, who took this analysis further in his essay "The New Evolutionism." The notion was gradually being accepted that engaged citizens could reclaim the public space monopolized by the regime and that social and cultural activities could take place outside of the officially sanctioned realm, bypassing the "leading role" of the Communist Party and other state-controlled instruments. . . .
Even after martial law was imposed at the end of 1981, the Polish opposition continued its newly adopted strategy of building parallel structures underground, by establishing a thriving underground press, a flying university, and many publishing houses, and gaining the moral authority that had been lost by the ruling elite, all in accordance with Kolakowski's original thesis.
Kolakowski wrote many other pieces about the Polish opposition, and also on the unique role of the Polish nation and its intellectuals, and in later years he warned, "The victory of democracy is by no means assured—there are various noncommunist forms of tyranny." But his analysis of the weakness of totalitarianism and the obligation to build independent civil society as the foundation for democracy still guides our work at the...
Democratization is never easy, smooth, or linear, but as Indonesia’s experience in building a multiparty and multiethnic democracy shows, it can succeed even under difficult and initially unpromising conditions.
This article discusses the 2014 presidential elections in Indonesia, which saw a strong populist challenge launched against the country’s young democracy. Prabowo Subianto, the former son-in-law of longtime autocrat Suharto, promised to roll back many of the democratic reforms of the last 15 years. Prabowo came within a hair’s breadth of winning the presidency, but ultimately lost out to Joko Widodo, a political newcomer from Central Java. The article evaluates what Widodo’s victory (and Prabowo’s strong campaign) tell us about the state of Indonesian democracy, and about the challenges that Widodo will face in leading Indonesia into the next phase of democratic strengthening.
A quarter-century since the troubled democratic transitions of the former Yugoslav republics, elections in the region are competitive and few would expect that losers would dare to reject voters’ verdict. Europe’s proximity and the institutions of Euro-Atlantic integration have greatly aided the region’s transformation. Yet this tale of a region eager to integrate with the West is not the whole story. By examining the 2016 elections held in Croatia, Serbia, and Montenegro, along with some earlier yet still recent contests, we can gain a window into the still troubled politics of the Balkans. For even though democracy has become a reality there, it continues to struggle with challenges posed by weak economies, widespread corruption, still-potent nationalist cross-currents, and the inevitably uneasy situation of a part of Europe that lies poised uncertainly between Russia and the West.
While Nelson Mandela’s greatness as a democratic leader in South Africa is unquestioned, his legacy in the realm of foreign policy is much more ambiguous. We have much to learn not only from South Africa’s own democracy, but also from the country’s “shortcomings” as a global democratic leader, including some underlying truths that its experience has revealed about how democracy can actually be fostered. Mandela’s legacy teaches that social, civic, and economic pressures against tyranny alone will not suffice; political movements dedicated not just to democracy but also to governing when the opportunity arises are required.
Brazil today faces an impeachment crisis. While the political ambitions of the president’s opponents have undeniably fueled the crisis, the electorate has also grown impatient and emboldened the opposition. This article contends that as stronger state accountability institutions uncovered endemic corruption, social and political inclusion paradoxically left the electorate less dependent on parties for the selective distributive of benefits, and more demanding of government effectiveness and probity. The equilibrium of valence voting without strong partisanship worked well during good times, but ultimately left parties vulnerable to public impatience with corruption, poor service provision, and the economic crisis—as well as to a crisis of political representation.
Control of corruption in a society is an equilibrium between resources and costs which either empowers or constraints elites predatory behaviour. While most research and practice focuses on legal constraints, this paper investigates normative constraints, deemed to be more important, especially civil society and the press. Fresh evidence—both historical and statistical—is found to support Tocqueville’s assertions regarding the importance of collective action and the joint action of media and associations in not only creating a democratic society, but controlling corruption as well. However, little is known on how to build normative constraints.
Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced great oscillations in democratic progress and retreat. Authoritarian modernization has taken root, notably in Ethiopia and Rwanda. No paradigm captures the complexity and volatility. Some argue that autocratic governance produces development outcomes while competitive clientelism encourages corruption and social distress. Nigeria presents a paradox of reform and dysfunction, of growth and discordant development, of minority affluence and mass poverty. The northern region has undergone economic and political decline. The failure to defeat Boko Haram reflects the prebendalist corrosion of state institutions. The February 2015 election is a dismaying hurdle for the Nigerian system of conglomerate governance.
In the new millennium the democratizing force of elections is contested. Different from the growing literature on electoral authoritarianism, Staffan Lindberg has argued that in Africa, elections are a new mode of democratic transition. Attempts to replicate his findings for other regions have failed, raising the question whether perhaps Africa is unique. This paper reexamines the evidence and finds that in Africa, too, democratization by elections is very much the exception. Instead of a general trend towards more democracy over successive elections, we find a variety of trajectories. Future research should address this diversity to better understand the contingent impact of elections.