In order to assess the real impact of different governmental arrangements on democratization, we must penetrate beyond general categories for classifying constitutional systems and measure the power of specific institutions. This essay presents a new instrument for measuring the powers of national legislatures across different constitutional frameworks that examines the postcommunist countries' Freedom House scores and ratings on a Parliamentary Powers Index at the constitutional moment and beyond. The evidence shows that the strength of the national legislature may be an institutional key to democratization.
The article describes the turbulent months in Lebanon starting with the violent assassination of its prime minister in February 2005 that led to the pullout of the Syrian troops from the country to the landmark legislative elections—free of foreign interference for the first time in 29 years—that took place in early summer. The essay sheds light on the complexity of the Lebanese confessional system and traces the evolution of its polity since the making of the country in 1926. Finally, it concludes with recommendations for the future of the country.
Tessler, Mark A.
This essay analyzes the results of a survey of Iraqi citizens' attitudes toward governance and democracy. The survey, conducted in November and December 2004, gives particular attention to attitudes toward democracy, attitudes about the political role of religion, the relationship between political attitudes and views about the rights and status of women, and the degree to which political attitudes differ among Iraq's ethnoreligious communities and are influenced by sectarianism. Findings reveal broad support for democracy, although there is substantial disagreement about the role that Islam should play in political affairs. This disagreement overlaps with and reinforces intercommunal differences.
The ethnic-communal factor has frequently been neglected in analyses of the prospects for democracy in the Middle East. Virtually every state in the region has major minority groups which have interests not identical with those of the governing group. Groups that believe their communities can win elections are going to be more favorable toward democracy than those certain they would lose. Any successful democracy has to work out a system of balancing these ethno-religious forces. But the complex structure of communities can also contribute to democracy if it offers a pluralist approach in which groups must make deals and compromises to meet their needs.
Arab countries -- Politics and government -- 1945-
Democratization -- Arab countries.
Power-sharing pacts and democracy with guarantees are far from perfect. Still, both Western policy makers and Arab reformers should take a long-term view of democratic change in the Arab world. Not only do pacts hold out the promise of drawing Arab leaders into political reform, but by lengthening the transition process, they can also help lay the foundations for the successful consolidation of democratic institutions. While power-sharing arrangements may be deeply unsatisfying for some Arab reformers, such political deals can significantly increase the likelihood both that liberal opposition activists will survive and that democracy will take root in the Middle East.
On 25 June 2005, voters cast their ballots in Bulgaria's sixth general elections since the collapse of the communist regime in 1989. The successful completion of another cycle should dispel any residual doubts about the democratic character of the Bulgarian political system. In the aftermath, however, it quickly became clear that the country now faces a new set of challenges. What is the institutional basis of economic growth? Under what conditions might ethnic passions be reignited in an otherwise pacified yet heterogeneous society? And, as Bulgaria moves toward full EU membership, what are the sources and manifestations of the "feckless pluralism" that systematically diminishes the quality of democratic governance?
Banks and banking, Central -- Former communist countries.
Democracy -- Former communist countries.
Both proponents and detractors of central bank independence (CBI) view granting central bank independence as a domestic decision made for domestic economic reasons after domestic political consideration. However, postcommunist independent central banks began their lives burdened with a dual democratic deficit. Not only were they predominantly developed by and for international actors, but this rapid process occurred without building significant domestic support for these institutions. This paper explores the problematic implications of this democratic deficit and discusses how central banks might be better incorporated into democratic polities without compromising their countries' economic health.
Russia (Federation) -- Politics and government -- 1991-
Democracy -- Russia (Federation)
Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich, 1952-
Do autocracies tend to govern better than democracies? Will a plainly authoritarian recasting of Russia's political system necessarily lead to a more capable state? Russia's president, Vladimir Putin would have us believe so, but recent events—not to mention the long arc of Russian and Soviet history—suggest a different answer. Putin's claims about what ails Russia are wrong. The culprit behind Russia's ungovernability is not the country's halting democracy but rather its weak, poorly institutionalized state. The best cure, moreover, is not authoritarianism— hard or soft —but rather an enhanced democracy, more deeply institutionalized than it ever was under Putin or his predecessor Boris Yeltsin.
A modest but potentially significant increase in human rights and democratic freedoms in the countries of the Arab Middle East was the most notable development in the state of world freedom during 2005. This is the principal finding of Freedom in the World 2006, the index of global political rights and civil liberties issued annually by Freedom House. Globally, the state of freedom worldwide showed a slight net improvement from 2004 to 2005. An analysis of regional patterns indicates that the Middle East and North Africa continue to lag behind other world regions when overall levels of freedom are measured.
On 19 August 2005, more than nine-tenths of the members of both houses of Burundi's legislature capped a free electoral process by choosing Pierre Nkurunziza to serve as the country's next president. The implications of this event in this small, conflict-ridden state on the northeastern shore of Lake Tanganyika could reverberate positively throughout the Great Lakes region of central Africa and beyond. While Burundi's democratic reconstruction is far from complete, the election suggests that even the most violent and sorely divided societies can be restored, given sufficient political will and generous resources to support the process of negotiation and change.
One of the most distinctive elements of Burundi's transition is the extent to which national leaders have embraced the importance of leadership training as a key to reconciliation and good governance. Indeed, Burundi may be the first case of a country just emerging from conflict in which key leaders have integrated into their peace process a national training program explicitly designed to rebuild their capacity to work effectively together in advancing their country's postwar reconstruction. This essay examines the goals and methods of the Burundi Leadership Training Program (BLTP).
In a time when a greater part of the world hails elections as the hallmark of democracy, skepticism of their true value has severely increased in the academic community. Building on an analysis of 232 elections in Africa, this article argues that an uninterrupted series of elections tends to cause any society to become imbued with democratic qualities since the mere repetition of multiparty elections—regardless of whether they are free and fair—leads to increases in human freedom and the spread of democracy.
This article critically considers measurement tools that have emerged to quantify the quality of governance, in particular, those measuring corruption. It argues that the inherent limitations of these measures, and the emerging phase of the corruption debate towards action, require a new approach. The Public Integrity Index—an independent, in-country expert assessment using investigative journalists and expert social scientist to quantify the capacity of a state's national governance framework to prevent corruption—is critically considered against a checklist of key factors that underpin sound measurement tools.