July 2008

Volume 19, Issue 3

Islamist Parties and Democracy

Islamist Parties and Democracy: Are They Democrats? Does It Matter?

The journalistic and policy communities have been alive with speculation as to whether Islamist groups involved in politics—including Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Palestine’s Hamas— are true believers in democracy or calculating pragmatists who, in Steven Cook’s words, are “seeking to use democratic procedures in order to advance an antidemocratic agenda.”

Islamist Parties and Democracy: Participation Without Power

The debate on the compatibility of Islamism and democracy has tended to focus on two main scenarios. In the first, Islamist political parties become agents for democratization through their participation in freely held elections. In the second, Islamists use the democratic process to gain control and establish an antidemocratic regime—the feared “one man, one vote,…

Islamist Parties and Democracy: Institutions Make the Difference

Political Islam is often cited as the key challenge to democratization in Muslim nations, but deep currents of authoritarianism may prove more of an obstacle. Traditions of monarchy, military rule, and weak civic institutions block the path of democratic transition throughout the Muslim world. Political Islam does of course present challenges of its own, such…

Islamist Parties and Democracy: Why They Can’t be Democratic

This article makes a case of the basic distinction between Islam and Islamism and presents three central arguments: 1. through religious reforms and a rethinking of the Islamic doctrine, the cultural system of Islam can be put in harmony with democracy, 2. this (first) argument does not apply to Islamism (political Islam) for the simple…

Islamist Parties and Democracy: A Boon or a Bane for Democracy?

What role do mainstream Islamist movements play in Arab politics? With their popular messages and broad social base, would their incorporation as normal political actors be the best hope for democratization or democracy’s bane? For too long, we have tried to answer such questions solely by speculating about the true intentions of the movements and…

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The Real Causes of the Color Revolutions

The “color revolutions” in the postcommunist countries cannot be attributed to diffusion alone. Structural factors offer a better explanation of why such revolutions have succeeded in some countries and not in others.

ASEAN’s “Black Swans”

Can regionalism help to redress the uneven spread and internal weaknesses of democracy in Southeast Asia? Unforeseen events in the region and positive political entrepreneurship may yet transform ASEAN into a force for democracy.

South Korea’s Miraculous Democracy

Despite South Korea’s messy democratic trajectory, it has miraculously achieved consolidation. Though far from perfect, South Korea’s democracy has turned obstacles into opportunities for reform and development.

The Remarkable Story of Somaliland

Emerging from one of the world’s most notorious failed states, Somaliland has become an oasis of relative democratic stability in the troubled Horn of Africa. What does its story teach us about democratic state-building?

The Orange Revolution and Beyond

Ukraine gained independence in 1991, but its people gained their freedom only in 2004 with the Orange Revolution—an uprising of the human spirit in which Ukrainians joined together to gain a voice in their future.

The Crisis in Kenya

For years Kenya was regarded as one of Africa’s sturdiest democracies. The fraudulent 2007 presidential election, however, exposed the fragility of Kenya’s democratic framework.

Election Watch

Reports on recent elections in Bhutan, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Georgia, Iran, Kuwait, Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Nepal, Paraguay, Serbia, South Korea, Taiwan, Tonga, and Zimbabwe.

Documents on Democracy

Excerpts from a petition containing "Twelve Suggestions for Dealing with the Tibet Situation," written by 29 Chinese intellectuals after the Chinese government put down protests in Tibet against Beijing's treatment of the Tibetan people. Excerpts from a speech given by European Commission president José Manuel Barroso at the formal launch of the European Foundation for…