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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.
Unveiling Mirage Democracy in Contemporary Africa
Democracy is the faith that the process of experience is more important than any special result attained, so that special results achieved are of ultimate value only as they are used to enrich and order the ongoing process. Africans must therefore be allowed to apply their cultural and historical experiences and talents in working out a pattern of ëgovernment of the people, by the people, and for the peopleí according to their own understanding and as their own peculiar circumstances demand. Those who do not want the vertical ëWestern-Style Democracyí must be given a fair chance to demonstrate an alternative African horizontal democracy. Perhaps what they come up with might be of benefit to politics even in the West, provided that their radical system of horizontal democracy protects the life, liberty and property of citizens, and provided that the people want it. The question of externally imposed or market-driven multi-party or dual-party or non-party is a matter of modality and should not occupy the center stage in Africa.
Between Hope and Despair
In 2009, Ignacio Walker—scholar, politician, and one of Latin America’s leading public intellectuals—published La Democracia en America Latina. Now available in English, with a new foreword, Democracy in Latin America: Between Hope and Despair contributes to the necessary and urgent task of exploring both the possibilities and difficulties of establishing a stable democracy in Latin America. Walker argues that, throughout the past century, Latin American history has been marked by the search for responses or alternatives to the crisis of oligarchic rule and the struggle to replace the oligarchic order with a democratic one. After reviewing some of the principal theories of democracy based on an analysis of the interactions of political, economic, and social factors, Walker maintains that it is primarily the actors, institutions, and public policies—not structural determinants—that create progress or regression in Latin American democracy. Democracy in Latin America is organized by eight themes: independence and the establishment of democracy; the economic shift from exports to import substitution; democratic breakdowns, transitions, and consolidation; the double transition to democracy and trade liberalization in the 1980s and 1990s; institutions, democratic governability, and neopopulism; presidentialism and parliamentarism; the "new social question"; and the need for democracy of institutions. Walker systematically addresses the abundant literature on democracy in Latin America, combining a scholarly perspective with real world experience that enhances the understanding of political and economic development in the region.
Islam, Culture, and Political Change
“The author convincingly argues for a view of democracy based not on ‘objective logic,’ but rather on pragmatic lines...[Mirsepassi] does deliver a variety of useful perspectives on the nature of the contemporary hostility.”
The gap between the richest and poorest Americans has grown steadily over the last thirty years, and economic inequality is on the rise in many other industrialized democracies as well. But the magnitude and pace of the increase differs dramatically across nations. A country’s political system and its institutions play a critical role in determining levels of inequality in a society. Democracy, Inequality, and Representation argues that the reverse is also true—inequality itself shapes political systems and institutions in powerful and often overlooked ways. In Democracy, Inequality, and Representation, distinguished political scientists and economists use a set of international databases to examine the political causes and consequences of income inequality. The volume opens with an examination of how differing systems of political representation contribute to cross-national variations in levels of inequality. Torben Iverson and David Soskice calculate that taxes and income transfers help reduce the poverty rate in Sweden by over 80 percent, while the comparable figure for the United States is only 13 percent. Noting that traditional economic models fail to account for this striking discrepancy, the authors show how variations in electoral systems lead to very different outcomes. But political causes of disparity are only one part of the equation. The contributors also examine how inequality shapes the democratic process. Pablo Beramendi and Christopher Anderson show how disparity mutes political voices: at the individual level, citizens with the lowest incomes are the least likely to vote, while high levels of inequality in a society result in diminished electoral participation overall. Thomas Cusack, Iverson, and Philipp Rehm demonstrate that uncertainty in the economy changes voters’ attitudes; the mere risk of losing one’s job generates increased popular demand for income support policies almost as much as actual unemployment does. Ronald Rogowski and Duncan McRae illustrate how changes in levels of inequality can drive reforms in political institutions themselves. Increased demand for female labor participation during World War II led to greater equality between men and women, which in turn encouraged many European countries to extend voting rights to women for the first time. The contributors to this important new volume skillfully disentangle a series of complex relationships between economics and politics to show how inequality both shapes and is shaped by policy. Democracy, Inequality, and Representation provides deeply nuanced insight into why some democracies are able to curtail inequality—while others continue to witness a division that grows ever deeper.
Social Movements and Cultural Politics in Postauthoritarian Taiwan
Democracy on Trial is an attempt to begin to negotiate the problem of writing about and understanding democracy and social movements in Taiwan, and what they can tell us about a place and country that for me is both home and the field, an object of study and yet also an area of hope and engagement. "Democracy on Trial is as impressive for its conceptual sophistication as it is for its ethnographic depth. Chuang’s personal experiences and engagement with the movements he describes and analyzes bring to life the wealth of documentary and ethnographic data. The study should be of interest not just to Taiwan scholars and readers, but also those interested in issues of democracy in China and East Asia, the politics of Taiwan-PRC relations, and social movement scholars and activists." -- Arif Dirlik, Author of Culture and History in Postrevolutionary China: The Perspective of Global Modernity
The Politics of Forgetting
Spain is a notable exception to the implicit rules of late twentieth-century democratization: after the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975, the recovering nation began to consolidate democracy without enacting any of the mechanisms promoted by the international transitional justice movement. There were no political trials, no truth and reconciliation commissions, no formal attributions of blame, and no apologies. Instead, Spain's national parties negotiated the Pact of Forgetting, an agreement intended to place the bloody Spanish Civil War and the authoritarian excesses of the Franco dictatorship firmly in the past, not to be revisited even in conversation. Formalized by an amnesty law in 1977, this agreement defies the conventional wisdom that considers retribution and reconciliation vital to rebuilding a stable nation. Although not without its dark side, such as the silence imposed upon the victims of the Civil War and the dictatorship, the Pact of Forgetting allowed for the peaceful emergence of a democratic state, one with remarkable political stability and even a reputation as a trailblazer for the national rights and protections of minority groups.
Omar G. Encarnación examines the factors in Spanish political history that made the Pact of Forgetting possible, tracing the challenges and consequences of sustaining the agreement until its dramatic reversal with the 2007 Law of Historical Memory. The combined forces of a collective will to avoid revisiting the traumas of a difficult and painful past and the reliance on the reformed political institutions of the old regime to anchor the democratic transition created a climate conducive to forgetting. At the same time, the political movement to forget encouraged the embrace of a new national identity as a modern and democratic European state. Demonstrating the surprising compatibility of forgetting and democracy, Democratization Without Justice in Spain offers a crucial counterexample to the transitional justice movement. The refusal to confront and redress the past did not inhibit the rise of a successful democracy in Spain; on the contrary, by leaving the past behind, Spain chose not to repeat it.
From Dresden to Abu Ghraib, How Leaders Evade Accountability for Abuse, Atrocity, and Killing
Immigrants and American Civic Institutions
The massive demographic changes in the United States during the past few decades have made understanding the place of immigrants in the public sphere more critical than ever. Democracy's Promise examines both the challenges and opportunities posed to American civic institutions by the presence of increasing numbers of immigrants. "As political parties (perhaps) decline in the United States, as civic organizations (perhaps) move away from direct participatory politics, and as the number of immigrants certainly increases--what will link new Americans to the political realm? Janelle Wong answers this important question clearly, with elegance, nuance, rich description, and galvanizing provocativeness. Her evidence is compelling and her sense of urgency about the need for parties to look beyond short-term interests even more so." --Jennifer L. Hochschild, Harvard University "Wong draws on the Latino and Asian immigrant experience, with specific examples from the Chinese and Mexican communities of New York and Los Angeles, to show how the political parties have largely failed to organize these groups and why labor unions and immigrant advocacy organizations have stepped in to take their place. Far from 'disuniting' America, she clearly shows that bringing these groups into the political fray is central to the project of renewing American democracy." --John Mollenkopf, CUNY Graduate Center "A scathing critique of the role of parties in the mobilization of new immigrants and an invaluable analysis of alternative pathways of mobilization through community organizations." --Michael Jones-Correa, Cornell University "By employing multiple empirical methods, including in-depth interviews and sophisticated survey analyses, Janelle Wong provides a compelling account of the political activities and allegiances of America's Asian and Latino immigrants that challenges much conventional wisdom. Often the political parties are failing to reach out to these groups, and often immigrants remain concerned about their home countries; but they are nonetheless increasingly active in American politics, in ways that may do much to shape the course of American political development in the 21st century. Democracy's Promise is a major contribution to our understanding of this crucial dimension of American politics." --Rogers M. Smith, University of Pennsylvania "Democracy's Promise challenges political parties to reexamine their priorities for mobilizing new voters, and identifies the critical role civic institutions play in invigorating participation among immigrant citizens. Wong's analysis is at once precise and expansive; illuminating the contours of Latino and Asian American political incorporation and provoking thoughtful debate on inclusion in democratic theory." --Jane Junn, Rutgers University Janelle S. Wong is Assistant Professor of Political Science and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.