April 2010

Volume 21, Issue 2


Democracy and Deep Divides

How do democracies deal with the deep divisions created by race, ethnicity, religion, and language? The cases of Canada, India, and the United States show that democratic institutions—notably, competitive elections and independent judiciaries—can bridge divides and build stability, but they must find a way to manage the tension between individual and group equality.


Indonesia: The Irony of Success

Indonesia is widely lauded as a democratic success story for rolling back the military, keeping radical Islam in check, and institutionalizing democratic freedoms. But this success has had costs in terms of democratic quality.


Do Muslims Vote Islamic?

Those who warn against efforts to promote free elections in Muslim-majority countries often point to the threat posed by Islamic parties that stand ready to use democracy against itself. But what does the record really show regarding the ability of Islamic parties to win over Muslim voters?


The Ex-Presidents

What makes elected leaders step down at the appointed hour, and what do they have to look forward to once their terms end? A look at the political afterlives of world leaders tells us that the future prospects of presidents and premiers may well affect their behavior while in office.

Trouble in Central America

Trouble in Central America: Honduras Unravels

A Central American military once again returned to the political center stage in 2009, but this had less to do with power-hungry generals than with warring civilian elites whose respect for liberal-democratic principles proved to be questionable at best.

What Makes Legislatures Strong?

A review of The Handbook of National Legislatures: A Global Survey by M. Steven Fish and Matthew Kroenig, and Legislative Power in Emerging African Democracies edited by Joel D. Barkan.

Election Watch

Reports on elections in Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, Honduras, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, and Ukraine.

Documents on Democracy

Excerpts from: a statement by Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charches of “inciting subversion of state power”; the inaugural address of Honduran president Porfirio Lobo; a statement issued by the Sri Lankan Lawyers for Democracy; the inaugural address of Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.