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.

Southeast Asia

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?


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.

Ballots, Bullets, and the Bottom Billion

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.

How Poland Promotes Democracy

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.

Election Watch

Reports on elections in Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Iran, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Taiwan, and Yemen.

Documents on Democracy

Excerpts from: Tawakkol Karman's acceptance speech for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize; a statement issued by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Conference of Bishops on the DRC's disputed 2011 presidential election; the concluding statement of the February 22 extraordinary meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group regarding the resignation of Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed.

Václav Havel (1936–2011)

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.

Guillermo O’Donnell (1936–2011)

Tributes to the eminent political scientist Guillermo O'Donnell, who passed away on 29 October 2011, written by O'Donnell's former coauthor Philippe C. Schmitter and by Scott Mainwaring of the Kellogg Institute, which O'Donnell helped to found.