July 2017

Volume 28, Issue 3

China’s Disaffected Insiders

The CCP regime has lost support among three groups it should normally be able to count on: street-level police, retired military officers, and state employees who are drafted into stifling dissent on the part of their own relatives. 

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The Pipe Dream of Undemocratic Liberalism

A look at liberal democracy’s complex historical evolution shows that elite fantasies of liberalism without democracy are ill-founded. Authoritarian legacies and democratic deficits lie at the core of trends that threaten liberal rights.

India's Democracy at 70

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India’s Democracy at 70: Growth, Inequality, and Nationalism

Of late, Indian democracy has been confronted with a new political economy. Strong economic growth over the last three decades has generated the world’s fourth-largest collection of dollar billionaires and the third-largest middle class, both for the first time in Indian history, while still leaving the single largest concentration of the poor behind. In a…

India’s Democracy at 70: Toward a Hindu State?

While the Constitution of India has not been amended after the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power in 2014, BJP-ruled states have passed laws which have reflected the Hindu-nationalist ideology of this party, including those known as “beef bans.” These laws and the activities of Hindu nationalist vigilantes (in particular those protecting…

India’s Democracy at 70: The Federalist Compromise

The institutionalized recognition of diversity within India’s federal system has been crucial for democratic consolidation. Substantial decentralization since the 1990s has made state governments central actors in shaping economic activity and national-election outcomes. However, since his rise to national office in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has projected an image of strong, central leadership. He…

India’s Democracy at 70: The Shifting Party Balance

This article reviews the state of India’s two major national parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC or Congress party), seventy years after independence in 1947 and three years after the BJP won a majority in the 2014 national election. The article looks at whether these parties are top-down or…

India’s Democracy at 70: The Disputed Role of the Courts

India’s Supreme Court has played the role of a countermajoritarian check but has also flirted with populism. This essay examines three aspects of India’s higher judiciary: the struggle between the judiciary and the other branches over “custody” of the Constitution; the question of judicial independence and who has the right to appoint judges (in India,…

India’s Democracy at 70: Civil Society and Its Shadow

The relationship between democracy and civil society is not straightforward. Angry crowds can stymie the functioning of the democratic process, institutions, and governance. Drawing on recent Indian examples, this article sets out a typology of civil society movements in order to assess their impact on Indian democracy. It shows how an active civil society can…

India’s Democracy at 70: The Troublesome Security State

Seven decades after gaining its independence from the British Empire, India retains all the hallmarks of a functioning democracy: It holds reasonably free and fair elections, has a mostly independent judiciary plus a largely free press, and enjoys a robust and growing civil society. Yet thanks to India’s colonial inheritance as well as weaknesses in…

The Rise of Referendums

The Rise of Referendums: Demystifying Direct Democracy

Plebiscites have grown less common in recent decades in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian countries, even as the use of referendums in democracies has expanded. Despite their many shortcomings, referendums are, on balance, a mechanism for strengthening democracy.

Election Watch

Reports on elections in Algeria, Armenia, the Bahamas, Bulgaria, the Gambia, Iran, Kosovo, Lesotho, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Serbia, South Korea, and Timor-Leste. 

Documents on Democracy

Prague Appeal for Democratic Renewal; excerpts from the inaugural address of French president Emmanuel Macron; excerpted remarks by Chilean politician and political scientist Sergio Bitar, recipient of the inaugural  Guillermo O’Donnell Democracy Award and Lecture-ship. 

News and Notes

NED’s Democracy Award; Launch of Haleh Esfandiari Forum; Conference on Human-Rights Scholarship; International Charlemagne Prize; Zbigniew Brzezinski (1928–2017); Giovanni Sartori (1924–2017); NED’s International Forum