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  • Author: Andreas Antoniades, Ugo Panizza
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Global Political Economy, University of Sussex
  • Abstract: The recurrence of ever more destructive economic crises and patterns of pervasive indebtedness and inequality threaten the social fabric of our societies. Our main responses to these trends have been partial, focusing on symptoms rather than causes, often exacerbating rather than improving the underlying socio-economic dynamics. To reflect on these conditions and on ‘what needs to be done’ this paper turns to a similar socio-economic malaise faced by the city-state of Athens in the 6th century BC. Most historical studies dealing with this crisis focus on the comprehensive debt relief policy (seisachteia) implemented by Solon. We argue that this debt relief, although necessary, was the least important of Solon’s reforms. Solon read the problem of debt as a problem of money so he went on to reform the monetary and exchange system. But he did not think that these reforms alone could restore socioeconomic sustainability. For this, a redefinition of what was counted as valuable economic activity and as income had also to take place. And for all these to work, citizens had to be involved more in the commons. Far from only achieving socioeconomic sustainability, these reforms gave rise gradually to the demos that we meet in the golden age of Democracy. It is indeed interesting that Democracy, in its ideal type of the 5th century BC, finds its origin in the way in which a society responded to a major socioeconomic crisis, characterised by pervasive indebtedness and destabilising inequalities. Such a broader historical horizon may help us grasp better the problems, stakes and challenges of our times.
  • Topic: Debt, Political Economy, History, Democracy, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Greece, Global Focus
  • Author: You Young Kim
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Council
  • Abstract: Hearing my grandfather state, "I'm forever grateful to Kim Il-sung," baffled me. His words of gratitude to the first supreme leader and the eternal president of North Korea did not match his heartbreaking tale of defecting to the South during the Korean War. Recalling his stories of hiding in the mountains and his relatives trapped in the isolated dictatorial communist state, I couldn't fathom being grateful for a man who pushed my grandfather to make such a difficult choice when he was only a few years older than I am now.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Eyal Rubinson
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: What is the role that democracy and adherence to hu- man rights play in NATO enlargement decisions? Democratic conditionality, a strategy of setting clear benchmarks of liberal-democratic reforms as a pre- requisite for membership, has been a central theme in NATO history. Adherence to democracy and human rights was cited in the Washington Treaty of 1949, and more recently in the 1995 Study on NATO En- largement, the 1994 Framework Document of the “Partnership for Peace” programme, the 1999 Mem- bership Action Plan (MAP) and other fundamental texts. However, despite this repeated insistence on condi- tionality, many candidate states did not satisfactorily improve their records pre-accession, and are increas- ingly unable to meet the requirement of a function- ing democracy, according to internationally renowned indices.
  • Topic: NATO, Human Rights, Regional Cooperation, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Atlantic, North America, Global Focus
  • Author: Amy Erica Smith, Emma Rosenberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: In the last decade, scholars have begun to elaborate the diverse ways religion manifests in democracies. We draw on theories related to modernization, secularism, and religious competition, as well as survey data from the Comparative National Elections Project, to explain individual-level and country-level variation in religious politicking—religious leaders’ and organizations’ engagement in electoral campaigns. At the country level, though human development depresses the rate at which citizens receive political messages from religious organizations and clergy, both secularism and religious pluralism boost it. At the individual level, “civilizational” differences across religious groups are muted and inconsistent. However, across the globe, citizens with higher levels of education are consistently more likely to receive political messages—an effect that is stronger where religious politicking is more common. A case study of Mozambique further confirms the insights obtained when we unpack modernization and secularization theories.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Politics, Religion, Developing World, Democracy, Citizenship, Human Development
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mozambique, Global Focus, Global South
  • Author: Andreas Schedler
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Since the invention of modern democracy, political theorists as well as practitioners have alerted us against the dangers of “majoritarian tyrannies,” whose substantive meaning, however, remains unclear and controversial. Many have also alerted us against the dangers of such alerts serving as rhetorical cover for antidemocratic elites. In this twin exercise of conceptual explication and reappraisal, I intend to both clarify the meaning and reevaluate the political role of the idea of majoritarian tyrannies. In the main part of the paper, I elucidate their internal structure and variance by discussing three logical presuppositions: (1) the performance of tyrannical acts, (2) the exclusive targeting of minorities, and (3) collective action by the majority. In the final part, I propose to revalue the concept as an instrument of horizontal accountability among citizens. Antipopulist rather than antidemocratic in nature, it allows the losers of majoritarian decisions to call their fellow citizens to account for the injustices they engender.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Culture, Democracy, Citizenship, Rule of Law
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Brian Budd, Nicole Goodman, Sarah Shoker, Dominik Stecula, Sara Bannerman, Tony Porter, Netina Tan, Chelsea Gabel, Liam Midzain-Gobin, Devin Ouellette, Norwin Tabassum, Catherine Frost, Marcel Goguen, Brian Detlor, Amelia Joseph, Andrea Zeffiro, Angela Orasch
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition, McMaster University
  • Abstract: As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, there are numerous disturbing signs that two world-historical accomplishments that had seemed so promising are in serious trouble. The first of these is digital networks, which had promised to bring the world closer together, bringing broader popular participation and engagement and new ways of generating wealth and wellness. However, today anxieties about digital networking are proliferating, sparked by growing levels of digital surveillance, the effects of digital devices on our mental health and sociality, and the loss of jobs to artificial intelligence. The second troubled historical accomplishment is democracy, which at the end of the Cold War seemed to be expanding inexorably, but which now is challenged by growing authoritarianism and popular discontent with democratic governments. Freedom House’s 2019 report, entitled “Democracy in Retreat”, documents the 13th consecutive year of weakening democratic norms around the world (2019). These two global developments are related, due to the negative impact of “fake news” spread digitally on elections or the disruptive effects of digitization on the type of social cohesion that should be an important precondition for and effect of democracy. However, the relationships between digitization and democracy are multidimensional and complex, and much work remains to identify and analyze them. This working paper contributes to addressing this need by bringing together a set of interdisciplinary contributions, exploring different facets of the relationship between digitization and democracy in a variety of settings, from the local through to the global. This introduction to the working paper provides an overview of some key issues and literatures relevant to the relationship between digitization and democracy, including the historical shift in assessments of this relationship from optimism to concern; analysis of more specific ways that digitization and democracy interact; and the increasingly global aspects of the problem and the challenges this poses to governance. The final section of this introduction provides a summary of the individual contributions that follow. These short papers were presented at a workshop at McMaster University in September 2018 and then revised for this set of working papers to bring out their common themes more consistently. This final section of the introduction emphasizes the inter-relatedness of digitization and democracy in various settings. This type of global and multidimensional mapping of the problem is crucial if these problems, and the fears about our global futures that accompany them, can be diagnosed, treated, and overcome.
  • Topic: Health, Democracy, Media, Surveillance, Digitization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jennifer R. Dresden, Thomas E. Flores, Irfan Nooruddin
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: The notion that robust democracy and violent conflict are linked is commonplace. Many observers of international politics attribute violent conflict in contexts as diverse as Myanmar and Syria to failures of democracy. Conversely, most agree that continuing political violence undermines any effort to build strong democratic institutions in Libya or South Sudan. As a matter of policy, democratization has often been promoted not only as an end in itself but as a means toward building peace in societies scarred by violence. Development professionals tackle these challenges daily, confronting vicious cycles of political violence and weak democratic institutions. At the same time, scholars have dedicated intense scrutiny to these questions, often finding that the interrelationships between conflict and democracy belie easy categorization. This report, the third in a series on democratic theories of change, critically engages with this literature to ask three questions: Under what circumstances do democratic practice or movement toward democracy quell (or exacerbate) the risk of different kinds of violent conflict? Under what circumstances do the risk and experience of violent conflict undermine democratic practice? How can external interventions mitigate risks and capitalize on opportunities inherent in transitions to democracy and peace? To answer these questions, a research team at George Mason University and Georgetown University spent eight months compiling, organizing, and evaluating the academic literature connecting democratic practice and violent conflict, which spans the fields of political science, economics, peace studies, anthropology, sociology, and psychology. This work was funded by USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (the DRG Center), under the Institute of International Education’s (IIE’s) Democracy Fellows and Grants Program. Beginning in May 2018, the authors organized a team of three research assistants, who read and summarized more than 600 journal articles, books, reports, and newspaper articles. The resulting White Paper was the subject of an August 2018 workshop with representatives from USAID and an interdisciplinary group of eight scholars with expertise in conflict and democracy. Based on their feedback, the authors developed a new Theories of Change Matrix and White Paper in October 2018. This draft received further written feedback from USAID and another three scholars. The core team then revised the report again to produce this final draft. This report’s approach to the literature differs from past phases of the Theories of Democratic Change project. While past reports detailed the hypothesized causes of democratic backsliding (Phase I) and democratic transitions (Phase II), this report focuses on the reciprocal relationship between democratic practice and conflict. The report therefore organizes hypotheses into two questions and then sub-categories within each question.
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Education, Democracy, Conflict, Political Science, USAID
  • Political Geography: Libya, Syria, North America, Myanmar, South Sudan, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Emily S. Chen
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Pacific Forum
  • Abstract: With its economic success, China seems to convey to the world that democracy is not a prerequisite for prosperity and social well-being. This paper seeks to explore whether and how the rise of authoritarian China may affect the state of democracy worldwide. It argues that at least for now, China may not intend to challenge the global state of democracy by actively blocking the expansion of democracy or promoting authoritarianism. However, China’s growing global influence, along with its overseas activities in defending the Chinese Communist Party regime and seeking greater international status, have had a negative impact on liberal democracy.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: China, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Foundation for Electoral Systems
  • Abstract: The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) recently concluded a two-year Technical Leadership project examining the abuse of state resources (ASR) in election campaigns. This research initiative, led by the Center for Applied Research and Learning and funded by the United States Agency for International Development under the Global Elections and Political Transitions mechanism, focused on ASR (sometimes referred to as administrative resources) for the purpose of gaining an electoral advantage. The Abuse of State Resources Research and Assessment Framework: Guidelines for the Democracy and Governance Community of Practice is an abbreviated companion document to the complete Abuse of State Resources Research and Assessment Framework developed in this effort. Both documents are based on in-depth, comparative analysis of laws and regulations that target ASR in election campaigns and the effectiveness of these provisions in deterring or remedying these abuses. In many countries, uses of state resources during electoral periods are not sufficiently regulated and enforcement of violations is weak or nonexistent due to deficits of political will or limited capacity of oversight institutions. As highlighted in an IFES publication, individuals and parties in power may capitalize on these gaps to marshal public goods – including state personnel, state funds and physical assets, and official government communications – in service of political campaigns. Beyond undermining electoral competitiveness, another often-overlooked component of this abuse of power is the role elections play in cycles of entrenched corruption. Not only do abuses during the campaign period undermine competitiveness by conferring an unfair electoral advantage, they threaten the appropriate distribution of government services and do long-term damage to the legitimacy of governance institutions. This is because abuses do not stop after parties use the assistance of the state apparatus to win elections; corrupt politicians subsequently use their access to levers of the state to enrich themselves and distribute perks to supporters. The cycle of government personnel, media, and other resources being used in service of political campaigns is then likely to continue. This ASR assessment tool focuses on legal and regulatory provisions specific to ASR, but it also delves into some other common areas of abuse (for example, government procurement and contracting, public works spending around elections, campaign finance, and vote buying). These guidelines were designed for use by international and domestic civil society actors, implementers, and advocates to evaluate the effectiveness of the ASR legal framework in a given country and develop additional tools for monitoring and advocacy. This shorter version of the tool will help these groups identify priority issues and vulnerabilities that they can use in developing their strategy for monitoring, addressing, and/or advocating for measures to mitigate ASR. Findings could also point to specific recommendations for improving transparency and enforcement surrounding ASR, including enhanced training programs, strengthened regulatory provisions, investments in investigative journalism, and increased transparency in public procurement.
  • Topic: Corruption, Governance, Elections, Democracy, Voting
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Davin O'Regan
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: U.S. foreign policy increasingly embraces and seeks to empower civil society organizations in developing countries as a critical contributor to stability and security. This paper explores whether there are grounds for these claims, specifically whether variation in civil society can explain the onset of civil wars. It examines two common explanations for the conflict-preventative potential of civil society, namely its ability to increase social capital and citizens’ voice. Four hypotheses are tested by integrating new data on various attributes of civil society from the Varieties of Democracies Initiative into a common model of civil war onset. Little support is found for claims that civil society reduces the probability of civil war onset by improving social capital, but onset may be reduced when a strong advocacy and political orientation is present in civil society. In other words, there appears to be some grounds for U.S. policy claims that a stronger civil society can enhance citizens’ voice and reduce instability and conflict onset. This finding still raises many questions about the precise links between civil society and civil war onset, and introduces potential complications for how policymakers might address conflict onset through support for civil society.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Civil War, Democracy, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus