Although Islamist terror groups invoke a host of religious references, the real source of their ideas is not the Koran but rather Leninism, fascism, and other strains of twentieth-century thought that exalt totalitarian violence.
Volume 13, Issue 2
Elections Without Democracy
Many countries have adopted the form of democracy with little of its substance. This makes the task of classifying regimes more difficult, but also more important.
Elections, usually taken to be a hallmark of democracy,can also become a tool of authoritarian powerholders seeking to legitimate their rule.
In recent years, new types of nondemocratic government have come to the fore,notably competitive authoritarianism.Such regimes, though not democratic,feature arenas of contestation in which opposition forces can challenge,and even oust,authoritarian incumbents.
Today, Africa south of the Sahara has a relatively small number of both democracies and full-blown dictatorships,along with a large number of hard-to-define regimes that fit neither category.
Argentina made headlines around the world last December as its presidency changed hands no fewer than four times in less than two weeks. Lost amid the chaos,however,were hopeful signs that the country has now turned the corner of democratic consolidation.
A New Look at Federalism
A new research project suggests that federalism enhances the ability of regimes to accommodate territorially based minorities. Federal systems, except when imposed by an outside power, significantly help to preserve the peace.
The effects of electoral systems and of federalism are usually examined separately, but a review of the leading federations shows that it is essential to consider the interaction between the two in designing democratic institutions.
Italy has long mixed great local and regional diversity with a unitary approach to governance. In October 2001, however, Italian voters approved a series of changes to their country’s Constitution that could mark a decisive turn toward federalism.
Last year, Bulgarians elected their newly returned former king as prime minister and then, in a shocking upset,ousted their incumbent president. What do these results portend for the future of Bulgarian democracy?
Political scientists have long theorized that the use of “preferential” election systems can help promote successful conflict management in divided societies. As it turns out, evidence from five real-world cases supports this conclusion.
A review of “Bad Elements: Chinese rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing.” By Ian Buruma.