South Korea’s Miraculous Democracy

Issue Date July 2008
Volume 19
Issue 3
Page Numbers 128-142
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South Korea’s 2007 presidential elections marked a watershed in the country’s democratic development, an event that came about on the force of four key developments. First, turn-taking in governance has turned political figures and factions into “responsible stakeholders.” Second, the inclusion of leftists and progressives has produced a flexible, open, and liberal political system. Third, “elite pact-making” between various political factions and figures has smoothed transitions between governments with radically different ideological orientations. Finally, even major internal and external shocks contributed to the consolidation of the democratic system each time they were successfully overcome.