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.

The Impact of the Economic Crisis

Hong Kong’s Democrats Divide

For the first time ever in the history of Hong Kong, local democratic leaders and Chinese officials have forged a pact on limited democratic reforms. That may have marked a step forward for the cause of democracy in Hong Kong, but it has also led to a sharp split in the democratic camp.

Arab Islamist Parties: Losing on Purpose?

In most Arab countries, Islamist groups are the only ones with the popular support needed to win free and fair elections. Yet Islamist parties have shown an ambivalence about and in some cases even an aversion to seeking power via the ballot box.

Constraining Government Power in Africa

African politics is often characterized as a realm of “informality,” but formal rules and institutions actually loom large, especially with regard to overweening executive power and the reforms that may help to rein it in.

Latin America


Two Essays on China’s Quest for Democracy

Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, is best known for his eloquent and incisive essays. Two of them are featured here: “Can It Be That the Chinese People Deserve Only ‘Party-Led Democracy’?” and “Changing the Regime by Changing Society.”

Election Watch

Reports on elections in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burma, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Guinea, Haiti, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Moldova, Tanzania, Tonga, Venezuela.

Documents on Democracy

Excerpts from: portions of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's closing statement at his fraud trial on 10 November 2010; the Casablanca Call for Democracy and Human Rights; an open letter written by two dozen former officials of the People’s Republic of China Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress; a UN resolution establishing the special rapporteur on freedom…