The years since 2000 have seen a surprising new wave of democratic breakthroughs in postcommunist lands as varied as Serbia, Georgia, and Ukraine. Can we identify any factors common to each case?
Volume 16, Issue 3
The role of international factors varied greatly across the post-Cold War transitions to democracy, but the intensity and results of external democratizing pressure depended on two variables: linkage to the West and Western leverage.
The New Iraq
Even after its successful elections, Iraq remains a divided society. Democracy did not create these divisions, but it could be the key to managing them.
For the Shi'ite majority and its senior religious leader, the January elections played out against the background of a longing for justice that has deep spiritual sources as well as more recent sociopolitical roots.
If Iraq is to become the free and self-governing country that an overwhelming majority of its citizens want it to be, a "useable past" made accessible by historical memory will be vital.
Is the Islamic-oriented party that has ruled since 2002 really the harbinger of 'Muslim democracy,' or is it something more familiar in Turkish politics: a hierarchical group none too closely in touch with society and overly focused on one man?
Despite some moves toward liberalization in the past three decades, all Arab-majority countries remain authoritarian. Nonetheless, opinion surveys show that popular support for democracy in this part of the world is high.
A Fresh Look at Semipresidentialism
The regime type known as semipresidentialism became a popular choice during the "third wave" of democratization. But some variations of this constitutional arrangement are more conducive to democracy than others
At the end of the Cold War, semipresidentialism became the modal constitution of the postcommunist world. In Russia and other post-Soviet states, however, this system of government has impeded consolidation.
Many saw the election of Workers' Party leader Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva to the Brazilian presidency in October 2002 as the beginning of an era. Two years into his first term, Lula has yet to live up to that expectation.
Once routinely praised as the "Switzerland of Central America," Costa Rica has in recent years begun to show troubling signs of having a political system that citizens feel is not keeping faith with them.
Natural-resource wealth has been at the root of Angola's corruption and authoritarianism. By giving leverage to those pushing for reform, however, it has also become a key factor in teh struggle for accountability.
A review of The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror by Natan Sharansky
Reports on elections in Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
Excerpts from: a joint statement to the Kyrgyz nation issued by the presidents of Georgia and Ukraine; the Madrid Agenda; a letter issued by five hundred Chinese human rights and democracy activists; the third UN Development Programme Arab Human Development Report; a secret audio audio message recorded by Thich Quang Do, deputy leader of the…