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.
The strong state in Malaysia and Singapore best explains why their authoritarian regimes have proved so stable and enduring. That is also the reason why democratization would go smoothly in both countries—yet, paradoxically, might never happen there at all.
Vietnam and its smaller neighbors Laos and Cambodia remain bastions of illiberalism and one-party rule despite rapid economic growth and falling poverty. What will it take to reform their elitist political cultures and curtail the use of public office for private ends?
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?
Do democracy and good governance necessarily go hand-in-hand? In most Southeast Asian countries, a gap exists between the two. How should we understand good governance in an authoritarian context? And what does poor governance mean for the legitimacy of democracy?
Although in 2011 declines in freedom exceeded gains for the sixth straight year, the uprisings in the Arab world represent the most significant challenge to authoritarian rule since the collapse of Soviet communism.
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.
For much of its history, Nicaragua has shown a predilection for personalist and populist rule. What explains the persistence and allure of these phenomena, and what obstacles do they pose for democracy in Nicaragua?
Does recourse to the ballot box spur violence and instability in the world’s poorest countries? Despite the worries of modernization theorists such as Paul Collier, the evidence indicates that, over time, elections are not associated with higher levels of political violence.
Among a new generation of international democracy promoters—often former recipients of democracy assistance themselves—Poland stands out. Its efforts, though mostly in its own neighborhood, show the importance of combining direct assistance with quiet diplomacy.
Despite a rocky first term, Peronist President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner saw her popularity rebound, leading to a huge reelection victory in 2011. Why is Peronism still the dominant “brand” in Argentine politics, and how has she come to own it so thoroughly?
- Excerpts from Yemeni journalist and human-rights activist Tawakkol Karman's acceptance speech for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
- Excerpts from a statement issued by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Conference of Bishops on the DRC's disputed 2011 presidential election.
- Excerpts from the concluding statement of the February 22 extraordinary meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group regarding the resignation of Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed in the wake of violent protests and defections by the army and police.
A tribute to Václav Havel—one of the most revered democratic leaders and thinkers of our time—who passed away on 18 December 2011. Included are a document issued by the signers of China's Charter '08 and some reflections, originally published in the Mainichi Daily News, by Aung San Suu Kyi.