Subject: Political culture

April 2019, Volume 30, Issue 2

Catalonia: The Perils of Majoritarianism

Spain’s system of Autonomous Communities had functioned fairly smoothly for decades following the country’s democratic transition, but events in Catalonia are putting it under unprecedented strain.

January 2019, Volume 30, Issue 1

India Under Modi: The Establishment Overreacts

Charges that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party threaten liberal-democratic safeguards are best understood as the overheated reaction of an insular elite that is still struggling to come to terms with its democratic displacement from power.

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October 2018, Volume 29, Issue 4

Democracy’s “Near Misses”

What factors help a democracy to survive a crisis? A study of cases in which democracy suffered a steep decline, yet ultimately recovered and endured, offers new insights. In moments of crisis, unelected and nonmajoritarian actors can play a pivotal role.

October 2018, Volume 29, Issue 4

Liberal Democracy’s Crisis of Confidence

Public-opinion data from Pew Research Center show that global support for representative democracy is widespread, but often thin. Amid rising economic anxiety, cultural unease, and political frustration, citizens are increasingly open to alternative systems of government.

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…

April 2017, Volume 28, Issue 2

Southeast Asia: Voting Against Disorder

Rodrigo Duterte’s rise to the presidency of the Philippines reflects a broader trend in Southeast Asia of voters favoring politicians who elevate order above law. What does the history of “voting against disorder” in Indonesia and Thailand imply for the future of democracy in the Philippines?

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

Violence Against Women in Politics

The use of force and intimidation against women trying to take part in politics is a growing problem in many places. Such violence assumes a number of different forms, but all aim to keep women as women out of public life.

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?

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

The Rise of “Localism” in Hong Kong

The September 2016 Legislative Council election marked the rise of a new political force that emphasizes the specific interests and identity of Hong Kong. It has especially been championed by many of the young people who swelled 2014’s Umbrella Movement protests.

July 2015, Volume 26, Issue 3

Hungary’s U-Turn: Retreating from Democracy

The great achievements of Hungary’s 1989–90 transition—including democracy, rule of law, market-oriented reform, and pluralism in intellectual life—are being dismantled as the world looks the other way.

July 2015, Volume 26, Issue 3

China After the Reform Era

The post–post-Mao era has now begun. The reforms that brought economic growth and greater openness to China are being unwound, while an assertive new leader strikes off in a populist and nationalist direction.

April 2015, Volume 26, Issue 2

Millennials and East Asia’s Democratic Future

East Asia’s millennials have grown up in an age of rapid socioeconomic progress, allowing them to become better educated, more urbanized, and more technologically connected than previous generations. Will they use their collective power to become agents of democratic change?

October 2013, Volume 24, Issue 4

Democracy and the Quality of the State

What is the relationship between high-quality state administration and democracy? A look back at modern Greece and Italy, along with Germany and  the United States, provides some insights.

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April 2013, Volume 24, Issue 2

Democratization Theory and the “Arab Spring”

In light of the “Arab Spring,” how should students of democratic transition rethink the relation between religion and democracy; the nature of regimes that mix democratic and authoritarian features; and the impact of “sultanism” on prospects for democracy?

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April 2013, Volume 24, Issue 2

Why Greece Failed

Greece was an early success story of the “third wave,” but since the 2008 financial crisis, it has become a poster child for the pains of austerity and unrest. Its troubles at one level are fiscal and economic, but there is a political dimension that may be even more critical.

January 2013, Volume 24, Issue 1

Southeast Asia: In The Shadow of China

Given Southeast Asia’s relatively high level of socioeconomic development, we might expect it to be a showcase of democracy. Yet it is not. To grasp why, one must look to deeper factors of history and geography.

October 2012, Volume 23, Issue 4

Politics in Crisis?

Although politics today is in critical condition—some even say it is dying—it is all the more important to revive it.

July 2012, Volume 23, Issue 3

Turkey and Thailand: Unlikely Twins

Turkey and Thailand, two countries at different corners of the Asian landmass, appear at first glance to be an odd couple, but a closer look at their respective political situations reveals surprising parallels.

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April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

The Languages of the Arab Revolutions

The upheavals that have been shaking the Arab-Muslim world are revolutions in discourse as well as in the streets. Arabs are using not only traditional and religious vocabularies, but also a new set of expressions that are modern and represent popular aspirations.

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Southeast Asia: Thailand’s Uneasy Passage

In 2011, Thais reelected a party backed by deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Why is his brand of populism so irrepressible, and what can be done to reconcile the voting power of Thailand’s rural lower classes with the establishment dug in around the Thai monarchy?

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April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations

Of all the “Arab Spring” countries, so far only Tunisia has managed to make a transition to democracy. Tunisians now have a chance to show the world a new example of how religion, society, and the state can relate to one another under democratic conditions.

January 2011, Volume 22, Issue 1

The Split in Arab Culture

A powerful “salafist” public norm has taken root in the Arab world, becoming the main symbol of resistance to Westernization. At the same time, however, new cultural forces in the private domain are promoting a dynamic of secularization.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

The Rise of “State-Nations”

Must every state be a nation and every nation a state? Or should we look instead to the example of countries such as India, where one state holds together a congeries of “national” groups and cultures in a single and wisely conceived federal republic?

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April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Democracy and Deep Divides

How do democracies deal with the deep divisions created by race, ethnicity, religion, and language? The cases of Canada, India, and the United States show that democratic institutions—notably, competitive elections and independent judiciaries—can bridge divides and build stability, but they must find a way to manage the tension between individual and group equality.

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January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Populism, Pluralism, and Liberal Democracy

In recent years, scholars have begun to focus on the sources of "authoritarian resilience." But democracy has also shown surprising resilience, in part because the disorders to which it is prone tend to counteract each other.

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January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Why Are There No Arab Democracies?

Democracy has held its own or gained ground in just about every part of the world except for the Arab Middle East. Why has this crucial region remained such infertile soil for democracy?

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: A New Rights Consciousness?

Despite the suppression of the Tiananmen Uprising of 1989, popular protest in China has by all accounts escalated steadily over the ensuing two decades. These protests have spread to virtually every sector of Chinese society, prompting more than a few observers to proclaim the emergence of a “rising rights consciousness” that poses a protodemocratic challenge…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Rural Protest

Although China’s farmers did not play a large role in the 1989 protests, they have been quite contentious since. Rural unrest has been triggered in part by reforms and in part by savvy “peasant leaders” who quickly seize opportunities that appear. Recently, many protest leaders have concluded that tame forms of contention are ineffective and…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Middle-Class Mobilization

Some of the many China stories to attract attention recently have involved NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) protests by largely middle class crowds gathering to demand a greater say in urban development plans. This article argues that such protests a) are a significant addition to the already complex landscape of Chinese collective action (and signal…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Online Activism

Online activism is an integral part of the broader landscape of citizen activism in contemporary China. It assumes a variety of forms, from cultural and social activism to cyber-nationalism and online petitions and protests. Technological development and social transformation provide the basic structural conditions. A fledgling civil society of online communities and offline civic associations,…

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July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

China Since Tiananmen: Authoritarian Impermanence

Like all contemporary nondemocratic systems, the Chinese system suffers from weak legitimacy at the level of regime type. The most likely form of transition for China remains the model of Tiananmen, when three elements came together: a robust plurality of disaffected citizens, a catalytic event, and a split in the leadership. Had China chosen the…

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Scottish Democracy in a Time of Nationalism

The Scottish National Party proposes to free Scotland from its supposed tutelage to London, but betrays habits of political centralism and elitism that raise questions about the quality of democracy an independent Scotland would enjoy.

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.

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April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Religion and Democracy

The secularization hypothesis has failed, and failed spectacularly. We must find a new paradigm to help us understand the complexities of the relationship between religion and democracy.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: The Wounds of Lost Empire

There is no consensus about the nature of the political system in Moscow today. Yet how one understands the motivations propelling Russian policy abroad depends on how one understands its regime at home.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Reading Russia: Forms Without Substance

Twenty years ago, there was a more thoroughgoing political pluralism in Russia than there is today. In some respects, the forms of democracy-including party consolidation-have been enhanced, but they have been so manipulated as to deprive them of substance. Either "electoral authoritarianism" of "multiparty authoritarianism" (Juan Linz's terms) may reasonably be applied to contemporary Russia,…

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…

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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…