Must countries where authoritarian regimes have fallen therefore be “in transition” to democracy? Many democracy promoters seem to think so. Yet trends on the ground in country after country are raising doubts about whether it is true or useful to think of democracy’s prospects in this way.
Volume 13, Issue 1
A decade after the end of apartheid, South African democracy may be headed for trouble because the country has yet to fulfill the three requirements of democratic consolidation: inequality-reducing economic growth, stable institutions, and a supportive political culture.
South Asia Faces the Future
The Editors’ introduction to “South Asia Faces the Future.”
Over the last two decades, India has gone through a series of peaceful revolutions-in society, in economic life, and in the political system-that have strengthened Indian democracy and given it a basis on which to thrive in decades to come.
India defies the widely held view that poor societies are unlikely to remain democratic. What explains the resilience of India’s democracy in the face of long odds? The answer lies in the ways the country has responded to the varied challenges of the past decade.
After September 11 and the start of the U.S.-led war on terrorists in Afghanistan, the Pakistani military regime of Pervez Musharraf found itself at the center of world attention. What do these new and dramatically changed circumstances portend for a possible return to elected, civilian rule in Islamabad?
Recent parliamentary elections showed the continuing strengths and weaknesses of Bangladeshi democracy. Although the country does have strong political parties and a decade of democratic elections, the intense antipathy between government and opposition will continue to cause problems well into the future.
Irresponsible leadership and ill-designed institutions have made this island republic prey to a bitter and violent ethnic conflict that is threatening to undermine democracy itself.
The year 2001 saw modest gains in the strengthening and consolidation of democracy worldwide, but in predominantly Muslim countries—especially the Arab states—the status of freedom and democracy lags far behind the rest of the world.
The implicit social bargain that carried many East Asian countries through the Cold War has lost its currency. If the peoples of this region are to secure the blessings of peace, liberty, and prosperity in the century ahead, they will need to have a new and explicitly democratic bargain working for them.
The story of this small former Yugoslav republic offers an example of how—if circumstances are right—it may be possible for a country to reform its way out of communism and into parliamentary democracy and a market economy.
The United Nations did superb work in helping Mozambique to end its long-festering civil war and start down the path to recovery, but those gains could slip away amid ominous conditions of partisan polarization, excessive political centralization, and a winner-takes-everything electoral system.
Recent studies suggest that civil society in the postcommunist countries is significantly weaker than in other types of democracies, old or new. Can this legacy of communism be overcome? If not, what are the implications for democracy?
A review of Afghanistan’s Endless War: State Failure, Regional Politics, and the Rise of the Taliban by Larry P. Goodson; and Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia, by Ahmed Rashid.
Reports on elections in Argentina, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, The Gambia, Honduras, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Poland, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan.
Excerpts from: British prime minister Tony Blair’s speech on the events of September 11 and their aftermath; the “Inter-American Democratic Charter” adopted by the Organization of American States; UN secretary-general Kofi Annan’s speech accepting the National Democratic Institute’s Averell Harriman Award; Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader and Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s “Speech for the Nation.”