The irony at the heart of Europe’s current crisis is that although the EU originated as part of a post-1945 effort to consolidate democracy in Western Europe, the Union’s travails are now pushing the continent in the opposite direction instead.
Volume 23, Issue 4
The EU is experiencing a somewhat paradoxical phenomenon: On the one hand, it has been a tremendously successful club, promoting democracy and open societies within its borders and in its neighborhoods. On the other hand, the language of national rivalry and of class struggle is re-entering public discourse, especially within the eurozone.
Contrary to the expectations of some democratic theorists, the EU will not collapse because of the “democratic deficit” of European institutions. Nor will it be saved by the democratic mobilization of civil society. Paradoxically, it is widespread disillusionment with democracy—the shared belief that national governments are powerless in the face of global markets—that may be…
Confidence in all European institutions is at a record low. What explains this lack of trust, and how can it be restored? To begin with, the eurozone needs a workable long-term solution, and the EU as a whole must come to terms with the reality of a two-speed integration process.
The present crisis of the Euro is a near perfect example of how causal complexity, unanticipated consequences, and decisional uncertainty can have a significant and cumulative impact on regional integration. In theory, this should be the crisis that will drive the EU from economic to political integration. In practice, the outcome—at least, so far—has been…
There is a lively public debate in Europe over how to deal with the current crisis. Among the obstacles to overcome, economic diversity, populism, and the distribution of costs figure prominently. Although most now agree on what needs to be done, whether it will be politically feasible remains uncertain.
Europe’s economic crisis has become a crisis of democratic governance that could roll back five decades of integration. The EU may disintegrate because its “commanders” are unable to converge three distinct economic, political and institutional theaters in which the crisis is being played out.
Modern democracy was born in the era of print, and the press has been one of its essential institutions. With the decline of newspapers and the rise of new media, what are the implications for democracy?
The “Arab Spring” has been very hard on autocratic presidents but so far has left the Arab world’s monarchies intact. How and why have Arab royals been able to resist the tide of protest?
The second wave of the Arab Barometer reveals strong and steady support for democracy in the Arab World but a deficit in democratic culture.
The Opening in Burma
The Burmese transition that began in 2011 will be a protracted process. The main challenge now is to build a state in which democracy can take root and grow.
Although active or retired military officers still hold top government posts, direct rule by the military as an institution is over, at least for now.
Elections alone will not answer the question of how to build a lasting democracy. Minority rights also must be protected.
For the country to develop, it needs an informed and engaged citizenry that has the knowledge and freedom to question those in power.
The hardest work of the transition—negotiating political pacts—has not yet begun. Burma’s democrats must help to forge a system of mutual security that can allow democratization to proceed.
Although politics today is in critical condition—some even say it is dying—it is all the more important to revive it.
A political system in which power is formally divided among ethnic or sectarian groups may seem like a good idea in conflict-ridden societies, but it bears a high price and makes true democratic transition harder to achieve.
A review of The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy by William J. Dobson
Reports on recent elections in Angola, Egypt, Hong Kong, Libya, Mexico, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Senegal, and Timor-Leste.
Excerpts from Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, which she gave on June 16 in Oslo, 21 years after she was awarded the prize. An excerpt from imprisoned former Yukos oil company head Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s statement criticizing the Moscow trial of three members of the band Pussy Riot. Portions of Egyptian president…
Oswaldo Payá (1952–2012) On July 22, Cuban democracy advocate Oswaldo Payá died in a car crash in eastern Cuba. Noting suspicious circumstances and prior threats made against Payá’s life, some suggested that the incident was no accident. Payá organized the Varela Project, which in 2002–2003 submitted more than 25,000 signatures to Cuba’s National Assembly in…