Despite the lack of electoral turnover in ANC-ruled South Africa, the country’s successful resistance to efforts at “state capture” under former president Jacob Zuma testifies to the vitality of its democracy.
Volume 30, Issue 4
The results of the May 2019 elections to the European Parliament—and particularly the growing influence of the populist radical right—reflect a deep transformation of European politics that can largely be traced to the “refugee crisis” of 2015–16.
Beyond the commonly cited economic and cultural anxieties afflicting many Europeans, a key factor enabling the rise of populism across Europe has been the failure of mainstream parties on both the left and the right to offer clear and credible policy alternatives.
The gilets jaunes movement erupted suddenly but has now apparently subsided without leaving a significant impact on electoral politics. Yet the tensions that gave rise to the working-class protests remain strong and are reshaping the political landscape of a divided France.
Modi Consolidates Power
The ruling BJP and the prime minister who leads it are now even stronger in the wake of their sweeping 2019 election victory. Voting puts the strength of Indian democracy on display, but the turn away from constitutional liberalism and toward Hindu majoritarianism is alarming.
To a degree that is still not widely appreciated, the BJP has replaced Congress as India’s party of welfarism. The carefully crafted political persona of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the “leader of the poor” has been crucial to this shift.
Amid mass protests, the personalist autocracy of longtime Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir fell to an April 2019 coup. With the country now being governed by a council composed of both opposition leaders and powerful security- service coupmakers, prospects for democratization remain uncertain.
Southeast Asia's Troubling Elections
For the second straight time, voters rejected a presidential candidate with ties to undemocratic Islamist forces, but victorious incumbent Joko Widodo felt compelled to tone down his support for liberalism.
The military junta that seized power in 2014 finally organized an election in 2019, but with the goal of preventing rather than facilitating a return to civilian rule.
The first half of President Rodrigo Duterte’s single six-year term saw steady erosion of legal barriers against abuses of power, typified by a bloody and extralegal “drug war.” Yet in midterm Senate elections, Filipino voters gave him a decisive victory.
A trio of national ballotings in 2019 tell a tale of waxing authoritarianism in Southeast Asia, but things could have turned out worse.
In 2011–13, the undemocratic political outlook of both secular and Islamist actors helped to ensure the failure of democracy in Egypt. Today, the populace appears to have backed away from democratic demands, yet pockets of resilient activism offer a basis for hope.
A review of Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe: From the Ancien Régime to the Present Day by Sheri Berman.
Reports on elections in Afghanistan, Guatemala, Madagascar, Mauritania, Nauru, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Ukraine.
Excerpts from: a statement by the Sudanese Forces for Freedom and Change; a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; a speech by journalist Maria Ressa; a speech by Hong Kong democracy activist and musician Denise Ho; a speech by Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa; a statement by Konstantin Kotov.