Subject: Corruption

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October 2019, Volume 30, Issue 4

Resisting State Capture in South Africa

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.

April 2019, Volume 30, Issue 2

Armenia’s Velvet Revolution

In 2018, a peaceful protest movement brought down Armenia’s semiauthoritarian government and ushered in a new political era, the culmination of a long struggle for national pride, self-determination, and democracy.

October 2018, Volume 29, Issue 4

The Downfall of Malaysia’s Ruling Party

In Malaysia’s May 2018 general election, a grand bargain between ex–prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and reform leader Anwar Ibrahim produced a political earthquake that ended 61 years of rule by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

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October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

The Kremlin Emboldened: What Is Putinism?

Under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s ruling class again claims to represent a superior alternative to liberal democracy. How can we theorize this regime? Putinism is a form of autocracy that is conservative, populist, and personalistic. Its conservatism means that Putinism prioritizes maintaining the status quo and avoiding instability. Conservatism also overlaps with Putinism’s populism in crowd-pleasing broadsides against gay rights and feminism, but gives…

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

The Kremlin Emboldened: Why Putinism Arose

This essay argues that the sources of the current revival of Russian authoritarianism lie in the country’s economic and political history. Among the major factors behind President Putin’s rise and consolidation of power, it cites an ideological overemphasis on the state that fosters hostility toward human rights and liberties; deeply rooted attitudes that cast the…

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

South Korea After Impeachment

After a presidential corruption scandal sparked peaceful mass protests leading to the impeachment and removal of the incumbent, South Koreans went to the polls to choose her successor. Was this drama a window on the troubles of South Korean democracy, or a testament to its strength and resilience?

April 2017, Volume 28, Issue 2

Nicaragua: A Return to Caudillismo

With the ruling FSLN’s one-sided triumph in the November 2016 elections, Nicaraguan democracy underwent further erosion. The emerging authoritarian party-state, far from being a leftist revolutionary government, is becoming a neopatrimonial dictatorship in an older Latin American style.

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

Tunisia’s Islamists and the “Turkish Model”

Ennahda has long felt an especially strong kinship with Turkey’s AKP, which has seen as representing a combination of piety, prosperity, and democratic credibility. How might their relationship be affected by the AKP's more recent authoritarian turn?

October 2010, Volume 21, Issue 4

Reformism vs. Populism in the Philippines

May 2010, Benigno Aquino III bested a crowded field to win the presidency. The election, which was remarkably clean and orderly, gave a clear victory to the reformist narrative that has long vied with populism in the Philippines.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Ukraine: The Uses of Divided Power

The 2010 presidential election shows that Ukraine is both a surprisingly stable electoral democracy and a disturbingly corrupt one. The corruption, moreover, may have a lot to do with the stability.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Election Observers and Their Biases

Why do election monitors sometimes issue contradictory statements or endorse flawed elections? The answers are not always straightforward; in some cases, the monitors’ good intentions may undermine their credibility.

April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Trouble in Central America: Honduras Unravels

A Central American military once again returned to the political center stage in 2009, but this had less to do with power-hungry generals than with warring civilian elites whose respect for liberal-democratic principles proved to be questionable at best.

April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Mozambique’s Slide into One Party Rule

Once touted as a regional success story, Mozambique has been backsliding toward one-party-dominant rule, and has now slipped off the Freedom House list of electoral democracies. How and why did this happen?

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Bangladesh’s Fresh Start

After a nearly two-year interlude of authoritarian rule, Bangladeshis voted decisively for democracy, a secular approach to politics, and the center-left. The challenge now is to show that parliamentary democracy can deliver stability and socioeconomic progress.

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July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Malaysia’s Electoral Upheaval

In March 2008, Malaysian voters dealt the long-ruling National Front coalition an enormous shock—pushing that party closer to losing power than it has ever been in Malaysia’s entire history as an independent country.  

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

The Turnover in El Salvador

In March 2009, El Salvador saw its first peaceful alternation of power since independence, as the FMLN, a former guerilla movement that laid down its arms in 1992, finally won the presidency.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: It’s No Mystery

The idea that the Russian government is a mystery-let alone a Churchill-evoking riddle or enigma-is absurd. The real issue has been the willful, even enthusiastic, blindness of political leaders and commentators regarding the true nature of Putin's regime which-with its insistence on strict hierarchy, unquestioning clan loyalty, and a stern code of secrecy-is essentially a…

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: Tools of Autocracy

Arguably a flawed democracy in the 1990s, Russia took a distinctly authoritarian turn under President Vladimir Putin from 2000 to 2008. The country now lives under a façade democracy that barely conceals the political and administrative dominance of a self-interested bureaucratic corporation. The regime manufactures consent by means of three tools: information and propaganda campaigns…

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: The Dying Mutant

The corporatist kleptocracy being erected by Russian President Vladimir Putin is profoundly misunderstood in the West. This model dooms Russia to economic degradation and margin-alization. The current global crisis has made this truth painfully clear. The artificially created image of a threatening West (and U.S. in particular) is now becoming the sole ideological justification for…

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: Is There a Key?

Of all of the national republics that emerged out of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia has had the most profound difficulties in determining its national identity. What is the essence of being Russian, and where are the boundaries of the "Russian World"? There has never been a Russian national identity that was anything…

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: The Return of Personalized Power

In contrast to authoritarian power structures, which rest on a form of bureaucratic corporatism that makes the leader its hostage, the regime in Moscow rests on personalized power, something that signals a return to the traditional Russian political matrix. The regime has fused power and property in a manner that makes the oligarchs utterly dependent…

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: The Merger of Power and Property

The regime in Moscow mixes key features of a capitalist economy with a political system wherein power is monopolized by a close-knit professional and age cohort whose members often have a background in the secret police. Instead of seeking to base its legitimacy on broad-based, transpersonal institutions with character and integrity of their own, the…

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April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: The Siloviki in Charge

The holders of political power in Russia today are the siloviki (sometimes called "securocrats" by political scientists). These are the people who work for, or who used to work for, the silovye ministerstva-literally "the ministries of force"-charged with wielding coercion and violence in the name of the state. Since Vladimir Putin's rise to power at…

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Hugo Chávez’s “Petro-Socialism”

Will Hugo Chávez’s victory in the 15 February 2009 vote to end term limits enable him to drive Venezuela toward “Bolivarian socialism”? There are reasons to doubt this, but for now democracy’s prospects do not look encouraging.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Another Step Forward for Ghana

Ghana held its fourth successful elections in late 2008 and subsequently witnessed the peaceful handover of power from ruling party to opposition. The country’s leaders must now reform its institutions of governance.

October 2008, Volume 19, Issue 4

Zimbabwe’s Long Agony

Once hailed as liberators, Zimbabwe’s ruling party now clings to power through violent repression. How did the country’s founding father become its dictator, and what patterns in his party’s past foretold such an outcome?

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

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.

April 2008, Volume 19, Issue 2

Politics, Markets, and Society in Lula’s Brazil

Brazil under Lula offers a test case of how politicians and societal interests in developing countries react when economic growth and new possibilities change the name of the game from shock and scarcity to boom and prosperity.

January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

Sierra Leone: A Vote for Better Governance

Five years after the close of a horrifying civil war, Sierra Leone held the freest elections in its history. Voters turned out the party that had overseen the war's end, blaming it for having mishandled governance since then.

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January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

The Arroyo Imbroglio in the Philippines

Asia's oldest democracy is sinking into a morass of corruption and scandal. The Philippines' president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, continues to undermine the country's democratic institutions in order to remain in power.

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January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

Senegal: The Return of Personalism

Senegal's 2000 presidential election marked the end of forty years of one-party rule. But the reign of President Wade has been a severe disappointment, dashing hopes for democratic consolidation. *This is a corrected text of the print and original online version of this essay, portions of which drew heavily on Tarik Dahou and Vincent Foucher's…

October 2007, Volume 18, Issue 4

Nigeria’s Muddled Elections

The failure of the elections has been partly mitigated by the hope of judicial review of electoral malfeasance, the stabilizing ingenuity of ethno-regional power-sharing, and renewed national discussions of electoral reforms.

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July 2006, Volume 17, Issue 3

Corruption: Diagnosis and Treatment

Successfully fighting corruption in developing and postcommunist countries requires far more than instituting best practices from advanced democracies. Corruption first must be properly diagnosed; in some cases it can be effectively treated only by attacking the distribution of power itself.

January 2006, Volume 17, Issue 1

Russia: Authoritarianism Without Authority

Vladimir Putin has pulled the plug on democracy in Russia in an effort to strengthen the authority of the central state. But a look at Russian federal relations shows that the state is growing weaker rather than stronger.

January 2006, Volume 17, Issue 1

Measuring Public Integrity

Measurements that rely on perceptions of corruption can be misleading. What is needed is a method of gauging how well a country has set itself up to defend public integrity systematically and in all its dimensions.

July 2005, Volume 16, Issue 3

Promoting Transparency in Angola

Natural-resource wealth has been at the root of Angola's corruption and authoritarianism. By giving leverage to those pushing for reform, however, it has also become a key factor in teh struggle for accountability.