Debating the Color Revolutions: What Are We Trying to Explain?

Issue Date January 2009
Volume 20
Issue 1
Page Numbers 86-89
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What were the color revolutions? The phrase encompasses a set of political changes across the postcommunist world that can be divided into three categories: transformative elections, "electoral revolutions" as such, and "postelectoral" popular uprisings. Electoral transitions varied dramatically with regard to the significance of the oppositions' actual victory in elections, the size of the crowds that turned out in the streets in support of the opposition, the geopolitical context of the transitions, and the long-term consequences of these electoral revolutions for the countries where they occurred. In seeking to explain these events, diffusion and structure need not be viewed as mutually exclusive causal variables. Indeed, diffusion, working in different structural and cultural contexts, has produced diverse political outcomes.