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 to follow a sequence of building institutions before encouraging mass competitive elections. Democratizing in the wrong sequence not only risks bloodshed in the short term, but also the mobilization of durable illiberal forces with the capacity to block democratic consolidation over the long term.
Thomas Carothers' "The 'Sequencing Fallacy" is largely correct in its criticisms of the argument that democratic reforms ought to be delayed until after a liberal rule of law and economic growth have been achieved. However, Carothers does not take sufficiently into account the need to create a coherent nation as the beginning point of the state-building process, something that usually requires changing borders or moving populations and has seldom in human history been accomplished without violence. The norm prohibiting such changes in Africa has in effect prohibited the sequencing of state-building and both rule of law and democracy there, contributing in some measure to state weakness.
Edward Mansfield and Jack Snyder worry about democratization in countries that lack the "right" preconditions because they believe that political development is path dependent. I see fewer dangers in "premature" democratic experiments and am skeptical about trying to hold off democratic change until conditions are ideal. West European political development was a series of false starts, failed liberalizations, and temporary regressions. Indeed these cases seem to show that problems and failures not only did not preclude later democratic success, but were instead integral parts of the long-term process through which non-democratic institutions, elites, and cultures were delegitimized and eventually eliminated and their democratic successors forged.
A dozen years after the adoption of Uganda's new constitution, the democratization process has been thrown into reverse. Uganda today is sliding backward toward a system of one-man rule engineered by the recently reelected President Yoweri Museveni, who has now been in power for more than two decades. Due to Museveni's use of force and intimindation on the one hand, and his manipulation of patronage on the other, the stakeholders whom one would naturally expect to denounce the backsliding have been silent.
This article asks: "What will be the future character of China's political system?" According to Freedom House, all countries above a certain income level are rated at least Partly Free, so why not China? Assuming continued growth in education and the economy, the model result shows it edging into that category by 2015 and Free by 2025. Despite evident negatives, changes in personal liberties, legal system, media, village elections, and individual values support this prediction. An in-between stage might involve more open competition within the party. When achieved, a democratic China would be a positive factor for peace in Asia.
Given the mixed signals and trends in China, it may be premature to identify a specific timeframe within which China will become Free or even Partly Free on the Freedom House scale. A more fruitful intellectual exercise might be to ask not when but how the Middle Kingdom could become Free. No one should underrate the will and skill that the ruling Chinese Communist Party will put into keeping its grip on power.
Yang highlights several factors that augur well for freedom in China. These factors include growing elite discourse on human rights and democracy as well as a massive expansion of tertiary education that will make a new generation more capable of articulating its interests. International factors include the expansion of democracy in Asia and China's aspirations to be a responsible global power in a world in which the leading powers are democracies. Ultimately China's political transformation will not be determined by the top elite alone but will be subject to negotiation and contestation among diverse interests.
From Bangkok to Manila, Taipei, Seoul, and Ulaanbaatar, East Asia's third-wave democracies are in distress. Data from the first and second Asian Barometer Surveys can help us systematically to assess the extent of normative commitment to democracy that citizens feel in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Thailand. Compared to levels of popular support for democracy, strength of authoritarian detachment, and satisfaction with the performance of democracy observed in other regions, our six East Asian democracies appear on a par with similarly situated societies elsewhere in the world. The lesson is that this form of government must win citizens' support through better performance.
AmericasBarometer data point to some overall trends that merit careful attention. The ideological center of gravity in Latin America is, by world standards, slightly to the right, yet attitudes are moving to the left. Ideological cleavages in Latin America, long after the Cold War's end, still line up along a distinct left-right dimension, and voters support parties consistent with their ideological orientations. The gap between left and right is very narrow, however, in some countries like Costa Rica, but strikingly wide in other countries such as Chile, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
A decade and a half after the first African regime transitions and despite growing popular disillusionment with democracy in practice, the general idea of "rule by the people" remains an attractive prospect for solid majorities of citizens. But popular attachment to the specific institutions of a democratic regime—and how willing citizens feel to apply formal criteria of institutional development to the evaluation of regime performance—is a much more varied and tentative matter.
Using New Europe Barometer public opinion surveys from 13 postcommunist countries, this article shows that with the passage of time citizens in undemocratic as well as democratic regimes tend to accept their political system; however, they do so for different reasons. Democratic regimes can gain positive support from reform-minded democrats and those who reject undemocratic alternatives. By contrast, undemocratic regimes depend more on resigned acceptance from citizens who do not think there is any alternative, thus, for better or worse, making their new regime the only game in town.
Across sub-Saharan Africa, formal institutional rules are coming to matter much more than they used to, and have displaced violence as the primary source of constraints on executive behavior. From decolonization in the early 1960s through the 1980s, most African rulers left office through a coup, assassination, or some other form of violent overthrow. Since 1990, however, the majority have left through institutionalized means—chiefly through voluntary resignation at the end of a constitutionally defined term or by losing an election. While institutional rules may not yet always determine outcomes in Africa today, such rules are consistently and dependably affecting the strategies through which those outcomes are reached.
This study tests the proposition that liberalizing African states may avoid coups d'etat and other forms of military intervention in their politics. It hypothesizes that one way for African states to gain legitimacy is by following a trajectory of gradual liberalization. The study shows that this legitimacy, in turn, tends to inoculate African states against military intervention. Many African regimes, on the other hand, have experienced an "authoritarian drift" after nominal transitions to "democracy." Unlike the regimes governing liberalizing states, "electoral authoritarian" regimes—ones that fall prey to authoritarian drift—become more vulnerable to both civil war and military coup.
By focusing on the informal legacies that still shape the democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, we can attain a nuanced understanding of the region's postcommunist countries. In Poland, confrontational maximalism helps to generate governmental instability and poor policy continuity, while in Hungary there is now a question mark hanging over the future of the bounded flexibility that once reliably helped to center democratic politics. In the Czech Republic, instrumentalist attitudes and partisan-ideological differentiation jointly increase the chances of serious corruption and polarization, while in Slovakia the democratic system appears to lack an endogenous force capable of effectively confronting bigotry and discrimination.