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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.
The Politics of Global Protest
Since the financial meltdown of 2008, political protests have spread around the world like chain lightning, from the "Occupy" movements of the United States, Great Britain, and Spain to more destabilizing forms of unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Russia, Thailand, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Ukraine. In Democracy Disrupted: The Politics of Global Protest, journalist and political scientist Ivan Krastev proposes a provocative interpretation of these popular uprisings—one with ominous implications for the future of democratic politics.
Challenging theories that trace the protests to the rise of a global middle class, Krastev proposes that the insurrections express a pervasive distrust of democratic institutions. Protesters on the streets of Moscow, Sofia, Istanbul, and São Paulo are openly suspicious of both the market and the state. They reject established political parties, question the motives of the mainstream media, refuse to recognize the legitimacy of any specific leadership, and reject all formal organizations. They have made clear what they don't want—the status quo—but they have no positive vision of an alternative future.
Welcome to the worldwide libertarian revolution, in which democracy is endlessly disrupted to no end beyond the disruption itself.
The power granted to the courts, both in a nation’s constitution and in practice, reveals much about the willingness of the legislative and executive branches to accept restraints on their own powers. For this reason, an independent judiciary is considered an indication of a nation’s level of democracy. Vineeta Yadav and Bumba Mukherjee use a data set covering 159 developing countries, along with comparative case studies of Brazil and Indonesia, to identify the political conditions under which de jure independence is established. They find that the willingness of political elites to grant the courts authority to review the actions of the other branches of government depends on the capacity of the legislature and expectations regarding the judiciary’s assertiveness. Moving next to de facto independence, Yadav and Mukherjee bring together data from 103 democracies in the developing world, complemented by case studies of Brazil, India, and Indonesia. Honing in on the effects of electoral institutions, the authors find that, when faced with short time horizons, governments that operate in personal vote electoral systems are likely to increase de facto judicial independence whereas governments in party-centered systems are likely to reduce it.
For almost a decade, Freedom House’s annual survey has highlighted a decline in democracy in most regions of the globe. While some analysts draw upon this evidence to argue that the world has entered a “democratic recession,” others dispute that interpretation, emphasizing instead democracy’s success in maintaining the huge gains it made during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Discussion of this question has moved beyond disputes about how many countries should be classified as democratic to embrace a host of wider concerns about the health of democracy: the poor economic and political performance of advanced democracies, the new self-confidence and assertiveness of a number of leading authoritarian countries, and a geopolitical weakening of democracies relative to these resurgent authoritarians. In Democracy in Decline?, eight of the world’s leading public intellectuals and scholars of democracy—Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Philippe C. Schmitter, Steven Levitsky, Lucan Way, Thomas Carothers, and editors Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner—explore these concerns and offer competing viewpoints about the state of democracy today. This short collection of essays is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the latest thinking on one of the most critical questions of our era.
Why have Russian generals acquired an important political position since the Soviet Union's collapse while at the same time the effectiveness of their forces has deteriorated? Why have there been no radical defense reforms in Russia since the end of the cold war, even though they were high on the agenda of the country's new president in 2000? Democratic Breakdown and the Decline of the Russian Military explains these puzzles as it paints a comprehensive portrait of Russian military politics.
Zoltan Barany identifies three formative moments that gave rise to the Russian dilemma. The first was Gorbachev's decision to invite military participation in Soviet politics. The second was when Yeltsin acquiesced to a new political system that gave generals a legitimate political presence. The third was when Putin not only failed to press for needed military reforms but elevated numerous high-ranking officers to prominent positions in the federal administration. Included here are Barany's insightful analysis of crisis management following the sinking of the Kursk submarine, a systematic comparison of the Soviet/Russian armed forces in 1985 and the present, and compelling accounts of the army's political role, the elusive defense reform, and the relationship between politicians and generals.
Barany offers a rare look at the world of contemporary military politics in an increasingly authoritarian state. Destined to become a classic in post-Soviet studies, this book reminds us of the importance of the separation of powers as a means to safeguard democracy.
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.