Ethnic Power Sharing: Three Big Problems

In severely divided societies, ethnic cleavages tend to produce ethnic parties and ethnic voting. Power-sharing institutions can ameliorate this problem, but attempts to establish such institutions, whether based on a consociational or a centripetal model, face formidable difficulties.

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Mandela’s Legacy at Home and Abroad

Nelson Mandela, who died in late 2013, fought for freedom for all the people of South Africa and masterfully guided his country’s transition to a nonracial democracy. His record on foreign policy is more ambiguous, but also instructive.

PDF icon Mandela's Legacy at Home and Abroad

Democratic Parliamentary Monarchies

How do democracies emerge from monarchies? In an essay that eminent political scientist Juan J. Linz was working on when he passed away in October 2013, he and his coauthors draw lessons from the European experience about whether and how Arab monarchies might aid or resist democratic development.

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A New Twilight in Zimbabwe? The Perils of Power Sharing

After four years of sharing power with the opposition, Zimbabwe’s longtime president Robert Mugabe and his party claimed a huge victory in the 2013 elections. What accounts for the opposition’s stunning electoral decline?


A New Twilight in Zimbabwe? The Military vs. Democracy

By militarizing key state institutions and using violence against the opposition, Zimbabwe’s military elites have hindered the country’s transition to democracy. In return, they have been richly rewarded. Can the military’s tentacles be untangled from Zimbabwean politics?


The Freedom House Survey for 2013: The Democratic Leadership Gap

Civil-liberties scores have notably declined over the past several years, while political-rights scores have slightly improved—perhaps because modern authoritarians have begun to adopt subtler means of repression. Overall, however, freedom experienced a global decline for the eighth straight year in 2013.


Shifting Tides in South Asia: India and Its Neighbors

Home to about a quarter of the world’s people, South Asia presents a murky and not very encouraging picture when it comes to democracy.


Shifting Tides in South Asia: Renewed Hope in Pakistan?

Long prone to coups, Pakistan now for the first time has seen a freely elected government duly serve out its full term and peacefully hand the 
reins of power to another.

Shifting Tides in South Asia: Bangladesh’s Failed Election

After two decades of elections that produced a number of alternations in power, an impasse over “caretaker government” crippled the 2014 contest and has made single-party rule all too real a prospect.

Shifting Tides in South Asia: Reform and Resistance in Nepal

After a decade of upheavals, Nepal elected in November 2013 its Second Constituent Assembly, but it is still unclear whether elites will accept reforms that empower wider sections of society.


Shifting Tides in South Asia: Sri Lanka’s Postwar Descent

With the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in a 26-year civil war, Sri Lanka had a chance for genuine reconciliation, but that chance is being 
squandered by the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Shifting Tides in South Asia: Bhutan’s Deferential Democracy

An opposition victory in this Himalayan kingdom’s second elections in 2013 showed that surprises are possible even in a democratic transition that has been guided from above by the monarchy.


Shifting Tides in South Asia: Tumult in the Maldives

After a brief era of political opening, the authoritarian old guard has ridden a dubiously conducted presidential election back into power.


How Indonesia Won a Constitution

A review of Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia by Donald L. Horowitz.

Election Watch

Reports on elections in Bangladesh, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, and Thailand.


Documents on Democracy

Excerpts from:

  • The statement that Chinese rights activist Xu Zhiyong read at his January 22 trial for gathering a crowd to disrupt public order, for which he received a four-year prison sentence.
  • The March 4 statement issued by former presidents Oscar Arias (Costa Rica), Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), Ricardo Lagos (Chile), and Alejandro Toledo (Peru) on the deteriorating situation in Venezuela. 
  • The newly approved Tunisian constitution.
  • A December 2013 statement issued by the Civic Sector, one of the leading groups in the Ukrainian protests in the Maidan (a central square in Kyiv), seeking to set forth the principles of a new civic movement.