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.
Volume 25, Issue 2
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.
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.
A New Twilight in Zimbabwe?
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?
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After a brief era of political opening, the authoritarian old guard has ridden a dubiously conducted presidential election back into power.
A review of Constitutional Change and Democracy in Indonesia by Donald L. Horowitz.
Reports on elections in Bangladesh, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, and Thailand.
China On January 22, Xu Zhiyong was tried on charges of gathering a crowd to disrupt public order. The charges stem from Xu’s participation as a founding member of the New Citizens Movement, which exhorts Chinese citizens to seek their rights as laid out by the Chinese constitution. Since 2012, it has organized small demonstrations…