The Never-Boring Balkans: The Elections of 2016

Article
January 2017

Once Europe’s most painful “problem” area, the Balkans have managed to make strides toward stability, democracy, and integration into the West over the last fifteen or so years. But Moscow is becoming increasingly active in the region, and the durability of these gains should not be taken for granted.

Burma Votes for Change: The Challenges Ahead

Article
April 2016

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy swept Burma’s November 2015 elections. Will the new NLD-led government be able to live up to high expectations that it will deliver better governance, national reconciliation, and some form of federalism?

Decentralizing for a Deeper, More Supple Democracy

Article
October 2015

Can decentralization deepen democracy or is it doomed to weaken the state? If well designed, decentralization can have a positive impact on national unity, conflict mitigation, policy autonomy, service delivery, and social learning.

India, Sri Lanka, and the Majoritarian Danger

Article
January 2015

Does the electoral victory of the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party signal that the world’s largest democracy may be following Sri Lanka toward a politics where the will of the majority is exalted above minority rights?

Ethnic Power Sharing: Three Big Problems

Article
March 2014

In severely divided societies, ethnic cleavages tend to produce ethnic parties and ethnic voting. Power-sharing institutions can ameliorate this problem, but attempts to establish such institutions, whether based on a consociational or a centripetal model, face formidable difficulties.

The Ethnocracy Trap

Article
October 2012

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.

Book Review: Discovering the “State-Nation”

Article
April 2012

A review of Crafting State-Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies by Alfred Stepan, Juan J. Linz, and Yogendra Yadav.

Ballots, Bullets, and the Bottom Billion

Article
April 2012

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.

Debating Electoral Systems: Getting Elections Wrong

Article
January 2012

Evidence from waves of democratization shows proportional election systems, however imperfect, to be the better option in most contexts.

Debating Electoral Systems: Getting Majoritarianism Right

Article
January 2012

Contrary to popular wisdom, emerging democracies might be better off with a majoritarian electoral system rather than one based on proportional representation.

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