The Editors' introduction to the Journal of Democracy's Twentieth Anniversary Issue.
Volume 21, Issue 1
The crisis of the 9/11 terrorist attacks has sparked a surge of increased civic engagement by young people in the United States, but there is also evidence of a growing divide along class lines.
A coauthor of the pathbreaking study Transitions from Authoritarian Rule reflects on the lessons that he has learned about democratic transition and consolidation since the publication of this work nearly 25 years ago.
Another coauthor of Transitions from Authoritarian Rule questions whether his former collaborator is underrating the current dangers to democracy.
While we have witnessed many transitions to multiparty systems, it has proven much harder for countries to attain a genuine rule of law. We need to know more about the origins of the rule of law in order to promote it successfully today.
The short-term political impact of the economic crisis has been less dramatic than initially expected, but it may have lasting effects on the “quality” of democracy, including the legitimacy of prevailing financial institutions.
In some countries, democratic competition is undermined less by electoral fraud or repression than by a skewed playing field—unequal access to state institutions, resources, and the media.
The new electoral authoritarian regimes of the post–Cold War era have formally adopted the full panoply of liberal-democratic institutions. Rather than rejecting or repressing these institutions, they manipulate them.
In recent years, scholars have begun to focus on the sources of "authoritarian resilience." But democracy has also shown surprising resilience, in part because the disorders to which it is prone tend to counteract each other.
Democracy has held its own or gained ground in just about every part of the world except for the Arab Middle East. Why has this crucial region remained such infertile soil for democracy?
Twenty Years of Postcommunism
In the twenty years since 1989, acute excitement over democratic transition and consolidation gave way to symptoms of “democracy fatigue” and elite exhaustion; successful economic transition away from state socialism fell victim to a crisis of the free-market model; and the EU’s transformative power has reached its geopolitical limits. The nations of Central and Eastern…
Today, twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there is a growing ambiguity about the historical significance of 1989 and about the state of democracy in Europe (particularly Central Europe).
The recent history of Eastern Europe can best be understood as a transition to a new social contract between the postcommunist state that emerged from its communist predecessor and the postcommunist citizen who evolved from the communist subject. It is the relationship between state and society under communism that best explains the divergent paths taken…
The 1989 revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe were the triumph of civic dignity over Leninism. The first decade of postcommunism saw the project of an open society strongly challenged by ethnocratic temptations. The most important new idea brought about by the revolutions of 1989 was the rethinking and the restoration of citizenship.
This is a central problem—perhaps the central problem—for classical liberal theory and its crucial distinction between the state of nature and the civil state. Which is better for liberty: nature or the state?
The central problems now blocking democracy in Georgia and other parts of the former USSR are: 1) the use of power in order to gain wealth; 2) the absence of the rule of law; and 3) the passivity of citizens.
The author analyses the confluence of several elements that helped to set Russia’s course: the influence of history; the challenges of the transformation process itself; the importance of leadership; and the role of the West.
By any measure, democratization has achieved remarkable advances over the past twenty years. Why, then, have so many of the leading works written on the topic during this period been so full of gloom?
Reports on elections in Afghanistan, Botswana, Gabon, Honduras, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Romania, Tunisia, and Uruguay.
Excerpts from: Ayman Nour’s video message to the National Endowment for Democracy’s conference, “Middle Eastern Democrats and Their Vision of the Future”; Wang Lixiong’s speech accepting the Light of Truth Award; Ladan Boroumand’s speech accepting the Lech Wałęsa Prize; the “EU Agenda for Action”—the annex to the “Conclusions on Democracy Support in the EU’s External Relations”
A tribute in remembrance of Leszek Kolakowski (1927–2009).