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This volume studies elections as a core institution of liberal democracy in the context of newly democratizing countries. Political scientist Staffan I. Lindberg gathers data from every nationally contested election in Africa from 1989 to 2003, covering 232 elections in 44 countries. He argues that democratizing nations learn to become democratic through repeated democratic behavior, even if their elections are often flawed. Refuting a number of established hypotheses, Lindberg finds no general negative trend in either the frequency or the quality of African elections. Rather, elections in Africa, based on his findings, are more than just the goal of a transition toward democracy or merely a formal procedure. The inception of multiparty elections usually initiates liberalization, and repeated electoral activities create incentives for political actors, fostering the expansion and deepening of democratic values. In addition to improving the democratic qualities of political regimes, a sequence of elections tends to expand and solidify de facto civil liberties in society. Drawing on a wealth of data, Lindberg makes the case that repetitive elections are an important causal factor in the development of democracy. He thus extends Rustow's (1970) theory that democratic behavior produces democratic values.
Despite a late and fitful start, democracy in Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe has recently shown promising growth. Kathleen M. Fallon discusses the role of women and women's advocacy groups in furthering the democratic transformation of formerly autocratic states. Using Ghana as a case study, Fallon examines the specific processes women are using to bring about political change. She assesses information gathered from interviews and surveys conducted in Ghana and assays the existing literature to provide a focused look at how women have become involved in the democratization of sub-Saharan nations. The narrative traces the history of democratic institutions in the region—from the imposition of male-dominated mechanisms by western states to latter-day reforms that reflect the active resurgence of women’s political power within many African cultures—to show how women have made significant recent political gains in Ghana and other emerging democracies. Fallon attributes these advances to a combination of forces, including the decline of the authoritarian state and its attendant state-run women's organizations, newly formed constitutions, and newfound access to good-governance funding. She draws the study into the larger debate over gendered networks and democratic reform by exploring how gender roles affect and are affected by the state in Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. In demonstrating how women’s activism is evolving with and shaping democratization across the region, Democracy and the Rise of Women’s Movements in Sub-Saharan Africa reveals how women’s social movements are challenging the barriers created by colonization and dictatorships in Africa and beyond.
The Case of Castro's Cuba
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, foreign policy analysts and international relations scholars expected communist Cuba to undergo transitions to democracy and to markets as had the Eastern European nations of the former Soviet bloc. But more than a decade after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Castro remains in power, with no sign that the Cuban government or economy is moving toward liberalization. In Democracy Delayed, political scientist Juan López offers a searching and detailed analysis of the factors behind Cuba's failure to liberalize. López begins by comparing the political systems of three Eastern European states—the former German Democratic Republic, Czechoslovakia, and Romania—with that of Cuba, in order to identify the differences that have allowed Castro to maintain his hold over the government and the economy. López also shows the various conditions promoting change, including the development of civil society groups in Cuba, and discusses why some U.S. policies help the possibility of democratization in Cuba while others hinder it. While the Catholic Church in Poland and the Protestant Church in East Germany fostered change, the Catholic Church in Cuba has not taken a defiant stance against authoritarianism but seems instead to be biding its time until Castro is out of the picture. In conclusion, López argues that a political transition in Cuba is possible even under the government of Fidel Castro. Some necessary conditions have been missing, but it is possible that U.S. policies could lay the groundwork for democratic charge.
A Comparative Study
Digital politics is shorthand for how internet technologies have fueled the complex interactions between political actors and their constituents. Cristian Vaccari analyzes the presentation and consumption of online politics in seven advanced Western democracies—Australia, France, German, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States—from 2006 to 2010. His study not only refutes claims that the web creates homogenized American-style politics and political interaction but also empirically reveals how a nation’s unique constraints and opportunities create digital responses. Digital Politics in Western Democracies is the first large-scale comparative treatment of both the supply and demand sides of digital politics among different countries and national political actors. It is divided into four parts: theoretical challenges and research methodology, how parties and candidates structure their websites (supply); how citizens use the websites to access campaign information (demand); and how the research results tie back to inequalities, engagement, and competition in digital politics. Because a key aspect of any political system is how its actors and citizens communicate, this book will be invaluable for scholars, students, and practitioners interested in political communication, party competition, party organization, and the study of the contemporary media landscape writ large.
Institutionalized Regimes in Chile and Mexico, 1970–2000
Latin America’s region-wide 1982 economic collapse had a drastic effect on governments throughout Central and South America, leading many to the verge of failure and pushing several of the most stridently authoritarian—Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, and Uruguay—over the brink. Surprisingly though, Chile’s repressive military dictatorship and Mexico’s hegemonic civilian regime endured amid the economic chaos that rocked the region. Dual Transitions from Authoritarian Rule explains why the regimes in these two nations survived the financial upheaval of the early 1980s and how each progressed toward a more open, democratic, market-driven system in later years. Using an in-depth comparative analysis of Chile and Mexico, Francisco González explains that the two governments—though quite different ideologically—possessed a common type of institutionalized authoritarian rule that not only served to maintain the political status quo but, paradoxically, also aided proponents of political and economic liberalization. Featuring a discussion of parallel phenomena in Brazil, Hungary, Taiwan, and South Korea, Dual Transitions from Authoritarian Rule presents a cogent challenge to the received wisdom that sociopolitical and economic change within authoritarian nations must be approached separately. This book will interest scholars of Latin American politics, democratization studies, market reform, and comparative politics and international relations.
Improving Judicial Performance in Latin America
Judicial reform became an important part of the agenda for development in Latin America early in the 1980s, when countries in the region started the process of democratization. Connections began to be made between judicial performance and market-based growth, and development specialists turned their attention to “second generation” institutional reforms. Although considerable progress has been made already in strengthening the judiciary and its supporting infrastructure (police, prosecutors, public defense counsel, the private bar, law schools, and the like), much remains to be done. Linn Hammergren’s book aims to turn the spotlight on the problems in the movement toward judicial reform in Latin America over the past two decades and to suggest ways to keep the movement on track toward achieving its multiple, though often conflicting, goals. After Part I’s overview of the reform movement’s history since the 1980s, Part II examines five approaches that have been taken to judicial reform, tracing their intellectual origins, historical and strategic development, the roles of local and international participants, and their relative success in producing positive change. Part III builds on this evaluation of the five partial approaches by offering a synthetic critique aimed at showing how to turn approaches into strategies, how to ensure they are based on experiential knowledge, and how to unite separate lines of action.
Lessons from the Past and Scenarios for the Future
This book analyzes how the behavior of voters, parties, and the mass media in European Parliament elections affects domestic politics and how, in turn, domestic politics affects those behaviors. The contributors discuss election turnout and party choice, the contract between the European Parliament and national elections, the importance of citizens’ attitudes toward European integration, the relationship between political parties’ domestic policies and their stances on European integration, and the ways in which the mass media and election campaigns affect electoral outcomes. On the basis of this information, the authors present possible scenarios for future European elections and their relationship to the domestic politics of the EU member-states. The product of superb empirical research, European Elections and Domestic Politics is based on a unique combination of data from voter surveys, party manifestos, and mass media reports across all members of the European Union. This book will be essential for anyone interested in the future of the EU.
Improving Government Performance with Independent Monitoring Organizations
This book is based on a simple concept: no one is in a better position to hold a government accountable than those it governs.
When governments fail to meet the needs of their citizens, the international community often turns to large external organizations such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank. These analysts and monitors may have the resources and expertise to analyze and advise on public spending and governance, but where do they go when the time comes to implement new policies? And can they really have a more nuanced understanding of the country's problems than its own citizens? Who is there to watch day and night to hold the government accountable?
From the Ground Up proposes that the international community's efforts to improve public expenditure and budget execution decisions would be more effective if done in collaboration with local independent monitoring organizations. Stephen Kosack, Courtney Tolmie, and Charles Griffin track the work of sixteen independent monitoring organizations from across the developing world, demonstrating how these relatively small groups of local researchers produce both thoughtful analysis and workable solutions. They achieve these results because their vantage point allows them to more effectively discern problems with governance and to communicate with their fellow citizens about the ideals and methods of good governance.
The authors also outline some disadvantages facing independent monitoring organizations, such as insufficient resources, inadequate access to data, and too little influence with high government officials. Collaboration with larger international organizations could help independent monitoring organizations overcome such obstacles, increasing their chances of improving governance from the ground up.
Exploring Constitutional Functionality
In the 225 years since the United States Constitution was first drafted, no single book has addressed the key questions of what constitutions are designed to do, how they are structured, and why they matter. In From Words to Worlds, constitutional scholar Beau Breslin corrects this glaring oversight, singling out the essential functions that a modern, written constitution must incorporate in order to serve as a nation’s fundamental law. Breslin lays out and explains the basic functions of a modern constitution—including creating a new citizenry, structuring the institutions of government, regulating conflict between layers and branches of government, and limiting the power of the sovereign. He also discusses the theoretical concepts behind the fundamentals of written constitutions and examines in depth some of the most important constitutional charters from around the world. In assaying how states put structural ideas into practice, Breslin asks probing questions about why—and if—constitutions matter. Solidly argued and engagingly written, this comparative study in constitutional thought demonstrates clearly the key components that a state’s foundational document must address. Breslin draws a critically important distinction between constitutional texts and constitutional practice.