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  • Author: H. H. Michael Hsiao, Alan H. Yang
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The elections in January 2020 marked a new era for Taiwan, clearly demonstrating citizens’ resistance to China. The results showed that incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was re-elected with a landslide victory of 8.17 million votes (57.1%) which is higher than the previous record high of 7.65 million votes obtained by the Kuomintang (KMT) President Ma Ying Jeou in 2008. Michael Hsiao and Alan Yang, Chairman and Executive Director, respectively, of the Taiwan‐Asia Exchange Foundation in Taiwan, explain that “The Taiwanese people firmly defended Taiwan’s sovereignty and cherished democracy through free and open elections.”
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Sovereignty, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Nicholas Szechenyi
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: This collection of essays is based on a dialogue organized by CSIS to examine national perspectives on Asianism (regional exceptionalism) and universalism (democratic norms) across Asia, as well as the role of regional democracies in developing a common understanding of rules and norms as the foundation for a more stable regional order. The volume includes essays analyzing normative debates in Japan, South Korea, India, Indonesia, and the United States and explores the potential for like-minded states in Asia to prioritize democracy promotion in foreign policy strategy.
  • Topic: Democracy, Norms, Universalism, Evolution
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Joachim Betz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Despite being a consolidated democracy with free and fair elections and having a political system with intense party competition, a relatively vibrant civil society, and a functioning federal set-up, India still ranks poorly in terms of the coverage, generosity, efficiency, and quality of its social protection. This is difficult to explain based on the factors usually advanced for the implementation of generous social policies. A second puzzle is the predominantly protective nature of welfare policies in India in the current era of globalisation, which should necessitate policies enabling workers to participate successfully in a more demanding economic environment. These puzzles may be explained partly by (a) the long-term insulation of the Indian economy from international competition, (b) the low share of industry and modern services in GDP until recently, (c) the precedence of identity policies, (d) the fragmentation of the political sphere, and (e) the meagre empowerment of women in India. We should, however, acknowledge that change is underway and that the picture is not bleak across India as a whole – being supported by economic reforms and growth, a greater degree of decentralisation and party competition within the country, increasingly discerning voters, and progress on female education and employment opportunities.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Reform, Democracy, Social Policy, Welfare
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Darcie Druadt
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: South Korea’s deliberate liberalization of migration controls has facilitated the entry and stay of new types of residents from various ethnic, political, and national backgrounds. With this demographic shift comes new questions for the South Korean polity in terms of its expectations of rights and duties of residents in the country. South Korean citizenship has, until the past decade, been largely premised on belonging in two fields: shared ethnic descent and contributions to the nationstate development project. However, new residents, who are ethnically diverse and who contribute to the national project, are seeking greater rights and social welfare provisions just as Korean nationals are ambivalent about their inclusion in the democratic body politic. As a result, the migrant policies bring into sharper relief the contours of democratic discourse in South Korea today. Drawing from six months of immersive fieldwork conducted in South Korea, this paper analyzes the relevance of migrant rights and expectations in understanding the broader democratic challenges in South Korea. Examining the government’s institutionalization of certain migrant “categories”—namely, temporary labor migrants and so-called “marriage migrants”— the paper argues that South Korea’s treatment of diversity and the protection of individual rights should be analyzed more deeply to understand current trends in South Korean civil society and democracy.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Demographics, Migration, Immigration, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Ric Smith
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Australian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Ric Smith has masterfully woven archival material, memories of his own time as a foreign service officer, and conversations with other officers of the then Department of Foreign Affairs to recount the crisis in East Pakistan in 1971 and the difficult birth of Bangladesh. Smith highlights the Cold War incongruities of the crisis, including the Soviet Union’s support for democratic India’s position during the crisis, while the United States supported the military regime in Pakistan. The episode also stands as an example of Canberra diverging from Washington on an issue that was garnering political and media attention in Australia. Australia was able to pursue a policy toward the region that was independent from the United States, accepting early that East Pakistan was “finished” and that there was a need to address an unfolding humanitarian crisis. Smith’s book imparts important lessons about diplomacy for Australia: It is not only possible for Australia’s politicians and diplomats to take independent positions on major international problems, but they are sometimes respected by their allies when they do so.
  • Topic: Cold War, Human Rights, Democracy, Geopolitics, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Europe, India, Asia, Soviet Union, Australia
  • Author: Lana Baydas
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As the July 2018 elections approach, Cambodian civil society has faced an uptick in attacks and restrictions on their operations and funding. The government has increasingly attempted to stifle dissent and incite the opposition’s demise. As civil society grapples with the effects, some organizations have begun to organize their response, while others increasingly give way to self-censorship. In response, the international community, donors, and civil society must take action in order to halt further precipitation into a one-party autocracy and to preserve the remnants of Cambodian democratic framework that still remain.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democracy, Protests, Repression
  • Political Geography: Asia, Cambodia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Kharis Templeman
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
  • Abstract: In March 2018 the Taiwan Democracy and Security Project, a part of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia- Pacific Research Center, convened a workshop that examined Taiwan’s place in the evolving security environment of East Asia. Participants from the United States, Taiwan, and elsewhere in Asia were experts on a wide array of economic, diplomatic, and security topics. The discussions at the workshop were intended to place Taiwan’s security challenges in a broader regional context, to consider possible obstacles to and opportunities for greater multilateral cooperation on security issues, and to devise a set of recommendations for steps that Taiwan and its friends and partners could take to enhance regional security relationships.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Military Strategy, Democracy
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Kristin McKie
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Since presidential term limits were (re)adopted into many constitutions during the third wave of democratization, 207 presidents across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have reached the end of their terms in office. Of these, 30% have attempted to contravene term limits whereas 70% have stepped down in compliance with tenure rules. Furthermore, of the presidents who have attempted to alter tenure restrictions, some have succeeded in fully abolishing term limits, others have only managed a one-term extension, while a minority have failed in their bids to secure any additional terms in office. What explains these divergent trajectories? On the basis of a series of statistical analyses, I argue that trends in electoral competition over time are the best predictor of the range of term limit contravention outcomes across the board, with the least competitive elections permitting full term limit abolition and the most competitive elections saving off attempts at altering executive tenure rules. Furthermore, results show that failed contravention attempts are true borderline cases, rather than instances gross miscalculations of success by the president and her party, in that they feature less competitive elections than non-attempt cases but more competitive elections than successful contravention cases. These findings suggest a linkage between political uncertainty and constitutional stability more generally.
  • Topic: Democratization, Democracy, Institutions, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: There is no doubt that the Turkish referendum of 16 April 2017 marks a sea change for Turkey’s political system. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have narrowly won the referendum that turns his de facto hegemonic presidency into de jure. 51.28% of Turkish citizens approved the 18 proposed constitutional amendments, while 48.72% opposed them. However, the provisions of the constitutional amendments and the statements made by the main political protagonists and antagonists give little hope that the referendum result will bring political stability or economic prosperity; or allow Turkey’s leadership to play a constructive role in Syria and Iraq - at least in the short-term. Furthermore, it is unlikely to enhance the level of cooperation with the EU and the US over the war against the Islamic State (IS) and the refugee crisis.
  • Topic: Elections, European Union, Democracy, Geopolitics, Islamic State
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Max Hoffman
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: Turkey is emblematic of the promise of the digital revolution that is now sweeping through similarly emerging middle-income democracies around the world. Yet its approach to expanding internet penetration is shaped by its own set of political and social conditions. Wider internet access and use could contribute to a more dynamic Turkish economy that is driven by greater online competition and entrepreneurship. Turkey could likewise provide more efficient, responsive government services to more of its citizens by harnessing information and telecommunications technologies. But the efforts to reap these rewards are hindered by wide disparities in internet access and online literacy, as well as by very different customs that divide men and women, the old and the young, and urban and rural citizens. These divides are evident in the nation’s digital disparities and have roots in the country’s recent political history and social norms. At first glance, Turkey’s rapid but uneven economic development over the past several decades—with all of the accompanying social fissures—is akin to the experiences of other developing nations such as Albania, Chile, or Brazil. And Turkey, like other emerging middle-income democracies, is grappling with the need to privatize the internet and communications industries, which are often powerful political players with deep ties to ruling parties and with little interest in fostering serious online competition. But Turkey’s challenge of providing more internet accessibility at more affordable prices—a key step to becoming a full-fledged developed democratic nation and a new member of the European Union—faces obstacles that are particular to Turkey’s political economy. The ruling Justice and Development Party—more commonly referred to by its Turkish acronym, AKP—must calculate the political gains and losses of more widespread internet access, particularly for those conservative working-class rural voters who are the backbone of its political strength.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Democracy, Internet, Digital Revolution
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia
  • Author: Zhang Fan
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for American Progress - CAP
  • Abstract: American presidential elections have an impact that goes far beyond U.S. national borders. People around the world follow the campaign for the U.S. presidency with great interest, and many feel that they have a stake in the outcome. People in China pay particularly close attention because China, almost more than any other nation, regularly becomes a key topic in U.S. presidential debates. During this particular campaign season, candidates of both major political parties have frequently mentioned China. However, what’s more noteworthy in this election cycle is that the Chinese populous is not focusing solely on how their homeland is bandied about by the candidates, but even more so on the entire American electoral process as a whole. Certainly, some Chinese are tuning in primarily for entertainment value; but many others are trying to figure out exactly what this election will mean not only for the United States but for the entire world—including China. Regardless of what motivates individual Chinese election-watchers, the 2016 U.S. presidential election is popular in China. Zhang Fan, a Visiting Fellow on a Ford Foundation Global Travel and Learning Fund Program exchange, has spent the past five months at the Center for American Progress, studying the U.S. presidential election and Chinese reactions to it. She recently shared her views during a question-and-answer session with Blaine Johnson, China and Asia Policy Research Associate at the Center.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Elections, Democracy, Election Observation
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Neelanjan Sircar
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for the Advanced Study of India
  • Abstract: This paper develops a theory on how voters form and change political preferences in democratic de- veloping world contexts. In the developing world, where state institutions are often weak, voters tend to be more focused on the competence and capacity of parties and candidates to deliver benefits. Such information may be difficult to ascertain, so voters must glean information from how candidates con- duct themselves during the electoral campaign. Voters use kinship networks to develop more accurate preferences by collectively reasoning through newly available information on candidates. In order to demonstrate these claims, this study analyzes data collected on political preferences and kinship net- works in two villages just before and after the campaign period during the 2011 Assembly election in the Indian state of West Bengal. The paper finds very strong kinship network effects on changes in issue preferences and vote choice over the course of the campaign and explains the results through qualitative work and a series of network autoregressive statistical models. In sum, this paper demonstrates how vot- ers develop independent preferences and implement political change, even in low information contexts with weak human capital.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Networks
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Asia, West Bengal
  • Author: Jonathan Chen, Adhi Priamarizki
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The itinerant rise of the professionalised class of political pollsters, consultancies and statistic-analytical institutes in the Indonesian electoral scene has, in recent months, been accompanied by an analogous rise of a proto opinion-mining, sentiment-tracking industry in cyber-space, facilitated by an increasingly mediated environment. While newer forms of online media platforms have yet to replace traditional mass-media, the felt effects of individual aggrandisement and vicarious political marketing derived from these platforms proved to be very effective. This paper explores aspects of new media and its nascent influence upon Indonesian politics in the race to 2014. It examines how a more participatory post-Reformasi climate had joined forces with various aspects of new media, providing the electorate with greater leverage over their choice of candidates following the precipitous rise of populist media doyens like Joko Widodo. This paper concludes that aspects of new media are steadily gaining currency as a legitimate mainstream indicator of candidature electability even as voters‟ allegiance gradually shifts away from party to personality in Indonesia.
  • Topic: Mass Media, Elections, Democracy, Populism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Jonathan Chen, Adi Syailendra
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: An outmoded conception of youth in post-Reformasi Indonesia had led to an essentialisation of the demography into a dichotomous characterisation between that of “demographic dividends” and “ticking time-bombs”. In contemporary Indonesia, futurists see youths as fiduciary members of the developmentalist state agenda while pessimists take opprobrium at their volatile and violent track-record. This paper rejects both premises as instances of “Old Society” intrusion into the perceptions of Indonesian youth. Instead it ventures into an in- depth, sober examination of their present state of affairs and predicament. Based heavily upon empirical data from a range of surveys, polls and census, it had been shown that state and institutional attempts at reclaiming/redefining youths as their own fell short of ground realities. Youth emanating particularly from the Y-Generation and beyond have more agency than conventionally felt and it is increasingly imperative that their opinions on democratisation and decentralisation, twin aspects of reform efforts in Indonesia, are urgently taken into account given their potential for growth and influence.
  • Topic: Youth Culture, Democracy, Youth, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Youngjin Kim
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: Since the fall of Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, the outbreak of the “Arab Spring” has reasserted the universality of democracy. The question then of whether a “Jasmine Revolution” would occur in China has drawn the attention of foreign and domestic observers as well as raised the concern of the Chinese government. Today, even at the official level, the scope of debate on so called “Western-style” democracy is very limited in China regardless of the political standing of any politician whether conservative or progressive. It would be impossible to imagine in this case that there could be any debate over democracy that would lead to sweeping political reforms in the Chinese Communist Party. While on the other end of the political spectrum, a grass roots movement for democracy is also unlikely to develop. Most of the core figures involved in the democratic movement are either in exile overseas, under heavy restrictions at home, or have lost their momentum as time has passed by. Furthermore, possibly the greatest obstacle to any democratization movement in China is the reluctance of the middle-class. While often considered as a powerful driver for democratization in the rest of the world, it would be difficult to expect them to play the same role in China. Simply, the middle-class is the greatest beneficiaries of state-led economic growth and is unlikely to take part in any rapid political transformation. In this regard, the Chinese middle-class is far more conservative than that of any other country. To what extent then would a “Jasmine Revolution” be possible? There are four possible scenarios on the prospect for democratization in China. First, continued high economic growth is destined to bring about democratization. From the perspective of functionalism, improved standards of living as well as expansion of higher education, media, and an increasing consciousness of human rights will make democratization feasible within a certain period. However, such a viewpoint has some limits in that it blindly applies the experiences of the West and a few countries in East Asia to China without any consideration for its distinct history and social conditions. Second, there is the possibility for democratization due to impending social challenges mounting in China. In other words, if a combination of social problems builds up, the Chinese government would be unable to manage them under in its current repressive way. In this situation, the government would have to introduce democratic measures, such as freedom of speech and direct elections, to a substantial extent. Such a prospect though is unlikely to happen in the near future since high economic growth, increases in consumer expenditure, and the elevation of China’s international status will continue for a while, unless a major economic crisis were to occur in China or in neighboring countries. Even if such a crisis were to occur and the Chinese government implements measures for political reform, a soft-landing through democratization would not be guaranteed. Rather, it is highly probable that the unresolved problems would weaken the political control of the government and lead to political disorder. Third, a kind of flexible authoritarianism may be sustained for a long time. China has secured its legitimacy among the population through rapid economic growth, social welfare, administrative efficiency, and an assertive foreign policy. Simultaneously, it has maintained the stability of its system through strict control, systematization, and mass mobilization. Such a flexible authoritarian government is considered a prime alternative to Western-style democracy by the Chinese leadership and pro-government scholars. From such a viewpoint, it would seem unlikely to expect democratization in China for the time being. Lastly, there is a possibility that China would experience political chaos and division, a scenario that covers neither gradual democratization nor flexible authoritarianism. Authoritarian governments unable to actively promote reforms in the political system often fail to meet the social demands which have accumulated as marketization expands. Continued corruption and incompetence in the government leads to public dissatisfaction and might bring about the collapse of the system as in Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe, countries had implemented ‘shock therapy’ solutions to fix the problems of the socialist system. However, such rapid changes, in some cases, caused severe chaos rather than bring about a smooth transition to democracy. This hard landing scenario cannot be excluded in regarding the future of democratization in China. From a realistic perspective, even though China cannot avert the flow of democratization in the end, top-down democratization or limited democratic reform led by the Chinese Communist Party is more likely as Chinese civil society has yet to fully mature. Nevertheless, as political reforms would weaken the Chinese Communist Party and increase social instability, top-down democratization is likely to be restricted. And this limited reform might even fail to solve social problems ahead. In this case where there is no alternative social force for the Communist Party and its leadership, the direction for the development of Chinese politics will be unpredictable and could bring about unexpected results. China will therefore go through a difficult transition period due to intricate conflicts among domestic political forces.■
  • Topic: Social Movement, Democracy, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Middle East, Asia
  • Author: Doğu Ergil
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: MIT Center for International Studies
  • Abstract: Mass demonstrations in late April brought out hundreds of thousands of people in Ankara and perhaps a million people one week later in Istanbul, an awesome scene on both occasions. Demonstrations of lesser scale are underway in smaller cities like Canakkale and Manisa—a trend to continue until early elections scheduled for July 22. The demonstrations were comprised of mainly women and middle-class urban people who chanted their allegiance to secularism and a modern way of life, which they believed to be endangered by the religious leanings of the incumbent government. But is this a legitimate fear? The same government, led by the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi or AKP), has been in place since its electoral victory in 2002 and no substan- tial alteration took place in the basic tenets of the regime. Now, with the prospect of the election of the first Turkish president from this party, anxieties are high. The fear that such a danger is imminent has to be sociologically accounted for.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Democracy, Protests, Oppression
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia