External Influence and Democratization: Structure vs. Choice

Issue Date October 2014
Volume 25
Issue 4
Page Numbers 151-156
file Print
external View Citation

The essays by Ghia Nodia and Jakob Tolstrup suggest that our focus on the structural character of linkage and leverage needs to be tempered by greater attention to the role of leadership and contingency in the success of democracy in the former Soviet Union. While we agree that policy choice can sometimes affect democratization and the strength of ties to the West, it generally does so only within certain structural parameters. Leadership matters much less at the extremes of high and low linkage. And even in "faultline" cases such as Belarus and Ukraine, the impact of short-term or policy-driven shifts should not be overstated.