The wave of unrest that swept through the Arab world at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011 originated in Tunisia. What happened— and what are the prospects that Tunisia will make a successful transition to democracy?
Volume 22, Issue 3
The Upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia
Egyptians threw off the thirty-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, but now find themselves under essentially the same military tutelage that they had hoped to escape.
Widely reported as “Facebook revolutions,” the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt show that social media not only can ignite protests but also can help to determine their political consequences.
Strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s suspiciously lopsided 2010 electoral victory—and subsequent crackdown on dissent—may seem like a repeat of the events of 2006, but much has changed in the interval, and his regime is much more precarious today.
Despite signs of a cautious willingness to allow more political competition, the regime of newly reelected president Yoweri Museveni fell back on familiar habits of brutal repression when public unrest followed a sudden spike in the cost of living.
Poverty, Inequality, and Democracy
Many new democracies have faltered due to high levels of inequality and a deep polarization between the rich and poor. What is the relationship between modern liberal democracy and socioeconomic inequality?
Despite India’s impressive achievements in democracy, economic development, and the rule of law, it remains home to a third of the world’s poor. Although it has successfully averted famine since independence, it still struggles to prevent chronic hunger.
Despite improvements in South Africa’s socioeconomic landscape and the expansion of the black middle class since the end of apartheid, the country’s levels of poverty and inequality remain high and heavily correlated with race.
How did South Korea lift itself from destitution to affluence? And how was its ruthlessly authoritarian regime able to metamorphose into a stable democracy? Coopting the business and voluntary sectors to deliver welfare positioned the country to accomplish both.
After decades of civil war, Sudan is set to divide into two nations on 9 July 2011. Yet a number of explosive issues—including the drawing of borders and sharing of oil revenue—have still not been resolved, and the prospects for peace appear to be dimming.
Having thrown out a corrupt, authoritarian president for the second time, this Central Asian republic has gained a new chance at securing a real democratic transition.
A review of The Quality of Democracy in Latin America, edited by Daniel H. Levine and José E. Molina.
Reports on elections in Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Estonia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Micronesia, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Singapore, and Uganda.
Excerpts from: Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan’s inaugural address; the March 29 statement issued by the 31-member Libyan Interim National Council; the final statement issued by participants of the Conference for Change in Syria.