Region: Comparative Theoretical General

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

Media and Democracy: The Long View

Modern democracy was born in the era of print, and the press has been one of its essential institutions. With the decline of newspapers and the rise of new media, what are the implications for democracy?

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

Politics in Crisis?

Although politics today is in critical condition—some even say it is dying—it is all the more important to revive it.

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

The Ethnocracy Trap

A political system in which power is formally divided among ethnic or sectarian groups may seem like a good idea in conflict-ridden societies, but it bears a high price and makes true democratic transition harder to achieve.

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Václav Havel (1936–2011)

A tribute to Václav Havel—one of the most revered democratic leaders and thinkers of our time—who passed away on 18 December 2011. Included are a document issued by the signers of China's Charter '08 and some reflections, originally published in the Mainichi Daily News, by Aung San Suu Kyi.

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Guillermo O’Donnell (1936–2011)

Tributes to the eminent political scientist Guillermo O'Donnell, who passed away on 29 October 2011, written by O'Donnell's former coauthor Philippe C. Schmitter and by Scott Mainwaring of the Kellogg Institute, which O'Donnell helped to found.

October 2011, Volume 22, Issue 4

Comparing the Arab Revolts: The Global Context

Although the Arab revolts have a long way to go before they can be counted as gains for democracy, they do underline what is perhaps democracy’s greatest source of strength worldwide—its superior legitimacy.

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April 2011, Volume 22, Issue 2

Liberation Technology: Whither Internet Control?

Paradoxically, the rising profile of “liberation technology” may push Internet-control efforts into nontechnological areas—imprisonment rather than censorship, for example—for which there is no easy technical “fix.”

April 2011, Volume 22, Issue 2

FOI Laws Around the World

Are laws guaranteeing citizens freedom of access to public information (FOI laws) among the most important democratic innovations of the last century?

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Election Observers and Their Biases

Why do election monitors sometimes issue contradictory statements or endorse flawed elections? The answers are not always straightforward; in some cases, the monitors’ good intentions may undermine their credibility.

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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.

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Twenty-Five Years, Fifteen Findings

A coauthor of the pathbreaking study Transitions from Authoritarian Rule reflects on the lessons that he has learned about democratic transition and consolidation since the publication of this work nearly 25 years ago.

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Transitions to the Rule of Law

While we have witnessed many transitions to multiparty systems, it has proven much harder for countries to attain a genuine rule of law. We need to know more about the origins of the rule of law in order to promote it successfully today.

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

The Crash of ’08

The short-term political impact of the economic crisis has been less dramatic than initially expected, but it may have lasting effects on the “quality” of democracy, including the legitimacy of prevailing financial institutions.

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Authoritarianism’s Last Line of Defense

The new electoral authoritarian regimes of the post–Cold War era have formally adopted the full panoply of liberal-democratic institutions. Rather than rejecting or repressing these institutions, they manipulate them.

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January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Populism, Pluralism, and Liberal Democracy

In recent years, scholars have begun to focus on the sources of "authoritarian resilience." But democracy has also shown surprising resilience, in part because the disorders to which it is prone tend to counteract each other.

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Democratic Triumph, Scholarly Pessimism

By any measure, democratization has achieved remarkable advances over the past twenty years. Why, then, have so many of the leading works written on the topic during this period been so full of gloom?

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April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Religion and Democracy

The secularization hypothesis has failed, and failed spectacularly. We must find a new paradigm to help us understand the complexities of the relationship between religion and democracy.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

The Consequences of Democratization

For the past few decades, scholars have been focusing on the causes of democratization. It is now time to devote systematic attention to analyzing the costs and benefits that democracy brings.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Tocqueville’s Frontiers

A review of Conversations with Tocqueville: The Global Democratic Revolution in the Twenty-First Century edited by Aurelian Craiutu and Sheldon Gellar and Tocqueville et les frontières de la démocratie by Nestor Capdevila.

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January 2009, Volume 20, Issue 1

Is Democracy Possible?

While the belief in democracy has spread around the world, it has begun to crumble in some of the West’s finest academic institutions.

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

A New Look at Ethnicity and Democratization

Conventional scholarly wisdom holds that ethnic diversity within a given society generally dims democracy’s prospects. Careful reflection on the experience of many post-Soviet states, however, suggests that this need not be so.

July 2007, Volume 18, Issue 3

Exchange: The Sequencing “Fallacy”

Countries taking the initial steps from dictatorship toward electoral politics are especially prone to civil and international war. Yet states endowed with coherent institutions—such as a functioning bureaucracy and the elements needed to construct a sound legal system—have often been able to democratize peacefully and successfully. Consequently, whenever possible, efforts to promote democracy should try…

January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

The Perpetual Crises of Democracy

Democracy is and always will be in some kind of crisis, for it is constantly redirecting its citizens’ gaze from a more or less unsatisfactory present toward a future of still unfulfilled possibilities.

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January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

Revolution Reconsidered

The recent "color revolutions" in the former Soviet Union should lead us to reassess the idea of revolution and also to consider the weaknesses of the concept of "democratic transition.

January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

The Case for Presidential Term Limits

Presidential term limits have spread across the world, but in many countries presidents and their allies seek to circumvent or eliminate them. Advocates of democracy must protect this institution, as its role in democratization may be far more powerful than is conventionally recognized.

January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

Pathways from Authoritarianism

Does the nature of an authoritarian regime affect the potential for democratic transition? Data since 1972 indicate that some kinds of authoritarian regimes are more likely to democratize than others.

January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

Candidate Selection: The Choice Before the Choice

Voters casting ballots are an indispensable element of free government, but who decides which names go on those ballots? Although methods of candidate selection have received surprisingly little study by political scientists, they merit the attention of students of democracy everywhere.

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October 2006, Volume 17, Issue 4

Constitutional Courts: A Primer for Decision Makers

Courts empowered to overturn legislative acts have spread rapidly in recent years. If carefully designed and limited, constitutional courts may aid democratic consolidation, but if not, they can become objects of political strife, impediments to democracy, and bad influences on legal development.

October 2006, Volume 17, Issue 4

Governance and Development

Embedding a vibrant market economy into strong democratic political institutions is the best way to ensure that political and economic empowerment play complementary roles improving the lives of citizens around the world.

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July 2006, Volume 17, Issue 3

Universal Values and Muslim Democracy

The desire for freedom and self-government is written in human hearts everywhere; in this there can be no "clash of civilizations." Claims that Islam is inherently hostile to democracy represent an unwarranted surrender to fundamentalist arguments; we should engage with a broad spectrum of Muslim groups, but without compromising our commitment to freedom and democracy.

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July 2006, Volume 17, Issue 3

Corruption: Diagnosis and Treatment

Successfully fighting corruption in developing and postcommunist countries requires far more than instituting best practices from advanced democracies. Corruption first must be properly diagnosed; in some cases it can be effectively treated only by attacking the distribution of power itself.

July 2006, Volume 17, Issue 3

Election Rigging and How to Fight It

Authoritarian regimes around the world hold elections and manipulate them every step of the way. How do we understand and work around the challenges these regimes pose to what should be a clean and democratic electoral process?

January 2006, Volume 17, Issue 1

Measuring Public Integrity

Measurements that rely on perceptions of corruption can be misleading. What is needed is a method of gauging how well a country has set itself up to defend public integrity systematically and in all its dimensions.

October 2005, Volume 16, Issue 4

Minding the Polls

A review of Beyond Free and Fair: Monitoring Elections and Building Democracy by Eric C. Bjornlund.

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April 2005, Volume 16, Issue 2

Scholarship and Statesmanship

Seymour Martin Lipset’s contributions to political science and sociology are not theoretical achievements alone, but reflect his keenly practical moral awareness, his understanding of leadership, and his great love of democracy as the finest form of government ever devised.

April 2005, Volume 16, Issue 2

Freedom’s Edge

A review of The Democratic Advantage: How Democracies Promote Prosperity and Peace by Morton H. Halperin, Joseph T. Siegle, and Michael M. Weinstein.

January 2005, Volume 16, Issue 1

Building Democracy After Conflict: ‘Stateness’ First

World events-recent, current, and almost certainly to come-drive home the truth that before there can be a democratic state, there must first be a functioning state, period. Creating workable states where they have been destroyed or have barely existed yields to none among the challenges of our time.

January 2005, Volume 16, Issue 1

The IMF and Democratic Governance

Like many other world-government bodies, the International Monetary Fund is a necessarily nondemocratic organitzation that cannot help but have an impact on democracy’s prospects in poorer countries.