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You searched for: Content Type Policy Brief Remove constraint Content Type: Policy Brief Publishing Institution Finnish Institute of International Affairs Remove constraint Publishing Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs Publication Year within 25 Years Remove constraint Publication Year: within 25 Years Topic Democratization Remove constraint Topic: Democratization
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  • Author: Sean Roberts
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Following Vladimir Putin's presidential election victory in March 2012, the Russian political system has undergone significant change. The latest changes affect the way regional elections are conducted. However, a number of puzzles remain, not least the intentions of the Putin administration. Alongside liberalising reforms, such as the return of direct elections for regional governors and the easing of party registration requirements, we see new restrictions that close the political field. Nonetheless, the events of the past 20 months do reveal a distinct change in the reform process, as the Putin administration reluctantly adjusts to unfavourable political and economic conditions. In Putin's first two presidential terms, 2000-2008, reform was 'progressive', aimed at extending the Kremlin's power and authority. The latest changes, in contrast, are 'reactive' and involve an inevitable loss of control over political processes. One immediate implication is that political processes will become less predictable, as the Kremlin tries to reorganise its system of governance. But, in the longer-term there is a danger that the use of political reform as a substitute for democratic change will undermine the legitimacy of the entire political system.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democratization, Political Economy, Governance
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Markku Lonkila
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Social media played an important role in the Moscow opposition demonstrations in December 2011, functioning both as an alternative arena for public debate and as a tool for mobilising the protests. In a matter of months, the political atmosphere in the country changed and the legitimacy of the Russian power vertical was called into question. Even before the Duma elections in 2011, social media had turned into an alternative forum for political debate in Russia. These media frayed the image of United Russia and Vladimir Putin, politicised new audiences, and helped to form both a collective 'anti' identity and networks among the protesters. The reports of the falsification of the Duma elections circulated through social media channels and exploded into anger on the part of the betrayed voters. Social media were put to good effect when making the practical arrangements for the protests, such as financing the street demonstrations and recruiting participants. Albeit crucial in mobilising discontent, social media is less well-suited to building lasting political structures. In the longer run, the conflict-torn opposition has to transform the protests into offline organisations and decide, among other things, who can represent the street protesters in negotiations with the power-holders. Imposing strict internet control in Russia does not seem likely since the Russian urban middle class is accustomed to seeking information and expressing itself freely on the net. Removing this freedom would lead to an increase in anti-government sentiments and the intensification of protests in big Russian cities.
  • Topic: Democratization, Science and Technology, Social Stratification
  • Political Geography: Russia, Moscow
  • Author: Kaisa Korhonen, Juha Jokela
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Finnish parliamentary elections in spring 2011 were marked by a landslide victory for the Eurosceptic (True) Finns Party. Such an unprecedented upswing for anti-integrationist voices was expected to reshape Finland's EU policy. The Finns Party did not join the government, however, and the party has mainly influenced Finnish EU policymaking while in opposition, and indirectly through public opinion-building. While outright anti-integrationist rhetoric remains on the margins of national public debate, more critical approaches to EU politics have become increasingly pronounced. Political parties have, to varying degrees, adapted their rhetoric and policies to the changing environment. Importantly, the broad consensus on EU affairs in Finland has broken down, at least temporarily. The EU has featured high on the agendas of the recent election campaigns as well as in opposition politics. This has affected Finland's official position too. It has moved in a more cautious and self-contained direction, although the country remains a pro-integrationist member state.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland
  • Author: Stefan Meister
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The return of Vladimir Putin as Russia's president and the probable end of Dmitri Medvedev's modernization project will increase the alienation within German-Russian relations. Germany's modernization partnership with Russia has produced limited results because the two sides have different views on the cooperation. While the German side wants to develop common projects of good practice which will modernize the Russian economy and politics, the Russian side is interested in technology transfer. The interest in and knowledge of Russia among German decision-makers is decreasing. Germany lacks vision and concepts on how to influence developments in Russia. This is also due to the resistance of the current Russian elite towards implementing political reforms. As a result, Russia is losing its most important advocate in the EU (also regarding energy policy). This will have a negative impact on EU-Russia relations because the EU lacks leadership on Russia. Ongoing changes in Russian society, which challenge the Putin system, will present an opportunity to find new allies in Russia for cooperation and modernization, which may increase Germany's interest in its large neighbour. But this will call for a more balanced approach between the Russian elites and society in Germany's Russia policy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Social Stratification, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Germany
  • Author: Kristi Raik
  • Publication Date: 06-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU has a strategic goal to build political association and economic integration with the six countries included in its Eastern Partnership policy. To reach this goal, it has invented a new model of association agreement that includes deep and comprehensive free trade. At best, three out of six Eastern partners are likely to sign the agreements within the next couple of years.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anaïs Marin
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: One should not expect the 23 September election to comply with democratic standards. The current legislation in Belarus does not guarantee a free and fair process. The institutional setting prevents a transparent vote count and the election of opposition candidates. Yet, in sending a full-fledged observation mission to Belarus, the OSCE again appears to be giving official Minsk the benefit of the doubt. Breaking the vicious circle of external regime legitimation would require consistency and restraint in giving this periodic electoral farce any credence whatsoever. Imitating procedural democracy brings regime consolidation for Lukashenka: enticing the opposition forces – and their Western supporters for that matter – into the electoral trap is a preemptive scheme to disqualify them. Decapitated, divided, distrusted, the opposition is incapable of carrying out regime change. The regime's repressive build-up also dissuades Belarusians from mobilising to contest the predictable fraud – for now. They are nonetheless expressing increasing demands for independent election monitoring. In view of the 2015 presidential elections, the EU should invest more in the capacity-building and training of civil society actors, notably domestic election observers. Turning voters into reliable rule of law watchdogs could raise awareness in, and demand for democracy in Belarus.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Corruption, Democratization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Belarus
  • Author: Teemu Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The victory of the Georgian Dream Coalition (GDC) over the United National Movement (UNM) has brought pluralism into Georgian policymaking. Until the power shifts from the President to the Prime Minister in 2013, the country will be led by an awkward dual power. New leadership offers great opportunities for Georgia. It can improve its democratic system and economic growth and establish a dialogue with Russia and the breakaway districts of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This would alleviate the frozen conflict and tense security dilemma on the boundary lines. If the transition of power does not go well, there will be prolonged power struggles that could cripple the policymaking and cast Georgia back to pre-Saakashvili times. Saakashvili's UNM is still a very significant player in Georgian politics and it is important for the GDC and the UNM to find a way to cooperate. In order to smooth the fragile transition period, Georgia needs special support and attention.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Government
  • Author: Sean Roberts
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: If Russia is to follow an evolutionary path to democracy, then the regime must be ready to draw the so-called 'non-systemic' opposition into political processes. This gradualist formula for democratic change is also the formula for political stability. A number of liberalising reforms conducted by the regime in response to widespread protests following the December 2011 State Duma election gave grounds for optimism that this process is now underway. However, any hopes that these events would kick-start democratic reforms were short-lived. Rather than draw in opponents, the regime has sought to isolate them, using a combination of reform, non-reform, dividing tactics and repression. But the results have not been positive. The non-systemic opposition is under increasing pressure, having seen its options all but reduced to more protesting. It is also showing signs of radicalisation. At the same time, the Kremlin's uncompromising approach is undermining regime stability. The pressure is building in the Russian political system. The combination of repression and radicalisation could easily see political stagnation degenerate into instability and the EU should take this new dynamic into account in its future policy planning.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Democratization, Government, Political Economy, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Kristi Raik
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU needs to place a stronger emphasis on promoting democracy in its Eastern neighbourhood. A new approach should combine limited, focused conditionality with increased openness and multi-level linkages. Conditionality is often effective in promoting faster and better reforms where the home-grown will to democratise is present (as in Moldova, for example). It is not likely to work as a transformative policy, bringing about change from authoritarianism to democracy in the neighbourhood. The goal of tying neighbours to Europe should prevail over the principle of political conditionality. Economic integration and visa freedom have to be pursued with all neighbouring countries. This makes democratisation more likely to occur in the longer term. Engagement, providing it is not limited to political leaders, can be a successful strategy to push for democratic change. Cooperation with (semi-)authoritarian governments has to be accompanied by strong support for civil society and multiple links with the populations. Ukraine is a test case of the EU's ability to use association agreements as a tool for democracy promotion. The involvement of neighbours in the negotiation process offers a possibility to shape their domestic agendas. At the same time, there must be 'red lines': the EU should emphasize that it will not sign the agreements with countries having major problems with democracy.
  • Topic: Democratization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Arabia
  • Author: Anaïs Marin
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The West has come to admit that the Belarusian regime is indifferent to incentives and sanctions alike. The crackdown on the opposition that has been ongoing since Alexander Lukashenka's last fraudulent re-election shows that Belarus is drifting ever further away from democratic values and the EU's “ring of friends”. Reversing this trend requires EU member states to acknowledge that they bear part of the responsibility for the failure of the engagement policy launched in October 2008.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Brussels