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  • Author: Hedvig Ördén, James Pamment
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Influence operations are increasingly seen as a threat to democratic societies because they can corrupt the integrity of political deliberation. As individuals engage in debate on social media, political deliberation becomes vulnerable to potentially destructive forms of interference. Many debates on what to do about influence operations emphasize that these operations constitute what is deemed to be a foreign threat. But does the notion of foreignness, viewed in isolation, constitute a helpful lens for distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate influence operations? Ultimately, the lens of foreignness is only helpful when applied to a narrow set of cases. One sensible way of reviewing when the concept of foreignness can be useful in distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate influence operations is to consider three separate conceptions of how to determine what counts as foreign: foreign states, foreign citizens, and foreign interests. In the first case, influence operations are seen as threatening acts directed at a targeted state by foreign states, using behaviors seen as analogous to acts of war. In the second instance, influence operations are considered threatening acts conducted by foreign citizens that undermine domestic democratic systems in a targeted state. In cases of the third sort, influence operations are viewed as acts aimed at advancing foreign interests through the illegitimate employment of soft power. Given these various models, the notion of foreignness constitutes a useful lens for discussions of influence operations in cases when there is overwhelming evidence of state-based, hybrid, and irregular warfare. An argument can also be made for employing the distinction in relation to the protection of democratic institutions, such as elections. However, when influence operations are regarded as a more generalized threat to political deliberation, foreignness is not a helpful category for determining the legitimacy or illegitimacy of such campaigns. In such cases, rather than focusing on the (domestic or foreign) identity of the malicious actors themselves, it is more fruitful to conceive of illegitimacy in terms of specific manipulative communication techniques. Suitable countermeasures could include, for instance, creating greater transparency surrounding, or even restricting, the use of artificial techniques to inflate the level of perceived engagement a piece of online content generates.
  • Topic: Democracy, Soft Power, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Rachel Kleinfeld, Thomas Carothers, Steven Feldstein, Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Middle-power democracies—countries which regardless of their geopolitical weight have made democracy support a sustained component of their foreign policy—will be crucial to reimagining democracy support strategies and policies to better meet the moment. Some of these states have crafted new initiatives and wielded diplomatic tools to deepen their impact in recent years. However, these states have on the whole punched below their collective weight. This paper suggests that middle-power democracies can maximize their impact on global democracy in the following ways: Enhancing solidarity: when a country acts courageously in defense of democracy, it needs to know that others will stand alongside it. Sharpening their focus: middle-power democracies should target policy areas aligned with democratic values on issues both at the top of the geopolitical agenda and at the top-of-mind for citizens around the world—for example, economic recovery, injustice and discrimination, corruption, digital repression, and climate change. Improving diplomatic cooperation: pursuing flexible and focused multilateral partnerships allows for collaboration on key policy interests and amplifies middle-power actions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Democracy, Solidarity, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Michele Collazzo, Alexandra Tyan
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: “A human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis”. UN Secretary General António Guterres was among the first to raise the alarm about possible human rights implications of government measures to fight COVID-19. Since its outbreak, 87 states – both authoritarian and established democracies – have declared a state of emergency to curb the spread of the virus, which implies certain derogations from international human rights conventions. Protecting the right to life and physical integrity are fundamental duties facing government authorities, commitments enshrined in law – specifically Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Derogations from human rights conventions are permissible under certain circumstances, but any limitation must be motivated by absolute necessity, must not be disproportionate and must be limited in time.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Democracy, Media, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Steven E. Finkel, Aníbal Pérez-Liñán, Michael Neureiter, Chris A. Belasco
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper updates our earlier work on the impact of US foreign assistance on democratic outcomes in recipient countries using newly available USAID Foreign Aid Explorer data covering the 2001–2014 period, as well as new outcome measures derived from Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) data. Building on the theoretical and empirical framework established in our previous study and in subsequent work in the field, we estimate: a) the effect of overall USAID Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) expenditures on general indices of democracy, b) changes in the effects of DRG expenditures after 2001, and c) the conditions that moderate the impact of DRG funding at the country level in the contemporary era. We find that the effect of DRG expenditures decreased dramatically in the 2002–2014 period, relative to the modest effect shown in the previous study for the period immediately following the end of the Cold War. However, DRG aid remains effective in the current era under favorable conditions. Further analysis demonstrates important conditional effects related to patterns of DRG investment, such that aid has greater impact when levels of security assistance are low (indicating competing priorities) and when prior DRG investment is low (indicating diminishing returns). In addition, DRG is more effective at intermediate levels of democratization and less so in contexts of democratic backsliding.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Globalization, Governance, Democracy, Public Policy
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • 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: Nikola Gjorshoski, Goran Ilik
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Research and European Studies (IRES)
  • Abstract: The question of the correlation between Islam, political Islam, and liberal democracy has so far been the most exposed topic in exploring the democratic capacity of political Islam and Islamic societies in general. What is particularly intriguing about the relationship between political Islam and liberal democracy is the fact of its westernized triviality that has received a pejorative tone in Islamic political circles. Simplified, the triviality of liberal democracy for the Islamic political campus implies imposing a model of democracy that cannot be fully compatible with the original Muslim notion of society and government. Hence, the following paper analyzes exactly the relations of political Islam to specific inherent categories of liberal democracy such as the rule of law, representative government, the separation of powers, and secularism as diferenta specifica of liberal western democratic discourse. Through the methods of induction and deduction, the author will illustrate how appropriate tangent or divergence is illustrated and how this is reflected in the general ideological positioning of political Islam towards liberal democracy in Muslim countries through an axiological and praxeological perspective.
  • Topic: Democracy, Rule of Law, Islamism, Liberalism, Secularism, Sharia
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, 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: Daniel F. Runde
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The fourth industrial revolution is underway, and technological changes will disrupt economic systems, displace workers, concentrate power and wealth, and erode trust in public institutions and the democratic political process. Up until now, the focus has largely been on how technology itself will impact society, with little attention being paid to the role of institutions. The relationship between societies and their institutions is changing, and countries will have to strengthen their capacities to avoid heightened social divisions. They must build resilience through gradual and intentional interventions designed for long-term, sustainable development. It is also essential that institutions work hard to build credibility and use available development tools, such as development finance institutions and foreign aid, to mitigate the risks of disruption. Countries and other stakeholders must pioneer these initiatives to successfully navigate the disruptions stemming from the fourth industrial revolution. The revision of existing models of education, skill development and investment and the integration of different stakeholders into the conversation will be critical in helping institutions play a productive role in rebooting the innovation agenda. This new report, Rebooting the Innovation Agenda, analyzes the need for resilient institution and the role they are expected to play in the fourth industrial revolution.
  • Topic: Industrial Policy, Democracy, Economic Inequality, Industrialization
  • 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
  • Author: Jonathan Pinckney
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC)
  • Abstract: Why do some nonviolent revolutions lead to successful democratization while others fail to consolidate democratic change? And what can activists do to push toward a victory over dictatorship that results in long-term political freedom? Several studies show that nonviolent revolutions are generally a more positive force for democratization than violent revolutions and top-down political transitions. However, some nonviolent revolutions, such as the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt, do not seem to fi t this pattern. This study takes on this puzzle and reveals that the answer lies in large part in the actions of civil society prior to and during transition. Democracy is most likely when activists can keep their social bases mobilized for positive political change while directing that mobilization toward building new political institutions.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democracy, Resistance, Nonviolence
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Simone Schotte
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Beyond the hopes placed in Africa’s emergent middle class as an engine of economic growth, some analysts see this group as a bastion of political stability and enduring democratisation across the continent. This paper’s approach differs from that of most studies, which treat the middle class as a homogeneous group, through two key contributions. First, using cluster analysis, I propose a novel way of conceptualising social class that broadly draws on the Weberian idea of shared life chances. I apply this method to South Africa and identify five social classes characterised by their members’ living standards, overall life satisfaction, and self‐perceived upward mobility. Second, the empirical analysis reveals significant discrepancies in attitudes towards democracy between the downwardly and upwardly mobile strata of the middle class, which I term the “anxious” and the “climbers,” respectively. On the one hand, the “climbers” show the highest generic support for democracy as a form of government, whereas the “anxious” middle class displays feelings of resignation. On the other hand, I find indicative evidence of a status‐quo bias among the “climbers.” Rather than assuming a more demanding or critical stance in politics, they allow their political priorities to be at least partly shaped by an interest in securing and expanding attained living standards; being upwardly mobile is even associated with a higher tolerance for government attempts to constrain freedom of information, opinion, or expression.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mathew Singer
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Theories of democratic legitimacy argue that people who believe that the government is well managed and that the government represents their interests are likely to defend the democratic status quo. Principal-agent theory predicts, however, that these same groups are also more likely to support the executive taking steps to restrict free speech or opposition rights via delegative democracy. Citizens who feel represented by an ideologically sympathetic and competent executive may be willing to delegate to him or her authority to restrict the opposition, even at the expense of civil rights. Survey data from eighteen Latin American countries from 2006 to 2012 are consistent with the principal-agent hypothesis; those who voted for the ruling party in the previous election or who perceive that the economy is strong are more likely to favor restrictions on civil rights for regime opponents. Political winners are particularly likely to display low levels of tolerance for expressions of opposition in polarized party systems. Thus, for democracy to prosper, it must not only satisfy the losers of political and economic processes but also find ways to encourage winners to exercise restraint.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jeffrey Conroy-Krutz, Erica Frantz
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: Despite the global spread of democracy following the end of the Cold War, dictatorships still rule about one-third of the world’s countries. The persistence of authoritarian governments poses a challenge for the international community on a variety of fronts: dictatorships are more likely to repress their citizens, instigate wars, and perpetrate mass killing, among others. This challenge is even more pressing given the gradual decline in the number of democracies worldwide over the last decade. Practitioners confront critical questions about which strategies are likely to pave the way for democratization versus which are likely to stifle it. Through a research grant 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, a research team from Michigan State University worked with the DRG Center to organize and evaluate the body of current academic scholarship that can contribute to understanding how and why countries move on paths from authoritarianism to democracy. The publication was informed and vetted in two peer review workshops by a group of democratization scholars from American University, Brown University, Columbia University, George Washington University, Harvard University, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University, and the University of Chicago. The publication begins by providing an overview of the concept of democratization and the difficulties of identifying and defining it. The theories related to democratization are offered in a simple theory matrix, allowing practitioners to quickly and easily: Survey the body of academic work dedicated to democratization through a succinct presentation of 34 theories organized within seven thematic theory families; Interpret the cause-and-effect relationships that academic research identifies through the presentation of brief hypotheses; Understand how scholars evaluate the strength and reliability of each hypothesis through a brief summary of the research team’s assessment of causal arguments and evidence; and Explore how each theory can support the assessment and design of development programs, through basic questions that offer guidance for how to determine the relevance of that theory’s specific cause-and-effect pathway to a particular context. Organizing the theories into seven thematic families enables a close comparison of related theories on democratization and clear distinctions to be drawn among them. The researchers note, however, where ideas overlap across these theory families.
  • Topic: Democratization, Political Economy, Politics, Culture, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Political Science, Institutions, USAID
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Allen Hicken, Walter Mebane
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: There is an acute need for methods of detecting and investigating fraud in elections, because the consequences of electoral fraud are grave for democratic stability and quality. When the electoral process is compromised by fraud, intimidation, or even violence, elections can become corrosive and destabilizing—sapping support for democratic institutions; inflaming suspicion; and stimulating demand for extra-constitutional means of pursuing political agendas, including violence. Accurate information about irregularities can help separate false accusations from evidence of electoral malfeasance. Accurate information about the scope of irregularities can also provide a better gauge of election quality. Finally, accurate information about the geographic location of malfeasance—the locations where irregularities occurred and how they cluster—can allow election monitors and pro-democracy organizations to focus attention and resources more efficiently and to substantiate their assessments of electoral quality. Election forensics is an emerging field in which scholars use a diverse set of statistical tools—including techniques similar to those developed to detect financial fraud—to analyze numerical electoral data and detect where patterns deviate from those that should occur naturally, following demonstrated mathematical principles. Numbers that humans have manipulated present patterns that are unlikely to occur if produced by a natural process—such as free and fair elections or normal commercial transactions. These deviations suggest either that the numbers were intentionally altered or that other factors—such as a range of normal strategic voting practices—influenced the electoral results. The greater the number of statistical tests that identify patterns that deviate from what is expected to naturally occur, the more likely that the deviation results from fraud rather than legal strategic voting. Through a Research and Innovation Grant funded by USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance under the Democracy Fellows and Grants Program, a research team from the University of Michigan, led by Professors Walter Mebane and Allen Hicken, built an innovative online tool, the Election Forensics Toolkit, that allows researchers and practitioners to conduct complex statistical analysis on detailed, localized data produced through the electoral process. The Election Forensics Toolkit presents results in a variety of ways—including detailed country maps showing “hot spots” of potential fraud—that allow practitioners not only to see where electoral fraud may have occurred but also the probability that the disturbances in the election data that the statistical analyses detect are attributable to fraud, rather than to other cultural or political influences, such as gerrymandering or geographic distribution of voting constituencies, among others. The team also produced two publications under the DFG grant: a Guide to Election Forensics and a more detailed Elections Forensics Toolkit DRG Center Working Paper. The Guide provides a more general introduction to election forensics as a field, and the DRG Center Working Paper focuses on presenting in detail the results of applying election forensics to specific elections in Afghanistan, Albania, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya, Libya, South Africa, and Uganda
  • Topic: Corruption, Politics, Elections, Democracy, Election watch, USAID
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Libya, South Africa, Cambodia, Albania, Global Focus
  • Author: Erica Chenoweth, Tricia Olsen, Kyleanne Hunter, Pauline Moore, Jonathan Pinckney, Heidi Reynolds-Stenson
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: In 2016, USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance launched its Learning Agenda—a set of research questions designed to address the issues that confront staff in USAID field offices working on the intersection of development and democracy, human rights, and governance. This literature review—produced by a multidisciplinary team of graduate students and professors—synthesizes scholarship from diverse research traditions on the following Learning Agenda question: What do we know about the role of citizens, social movements, and other domestic civic actors (as opposed to transnational actors or government officials) in advocating for particular human rights outcomes in their country? And what can we learn from the successes and failures of their activities? Much of the research on this topic has focused on North America and Europe, but do any of these findings have the potential to translate to other country contexts? Are there particular contextual or tactical variables in these country contexts that make it less likely that domestic civic actors can have an impact? Are there some kinds of rights that are easier to fight for than others? Key findings include: Context matters: democratic political systems allow grassroots human rights activists more opportunities and greater likelihood of success; extreme poverty makes grassroots mobilization harder. Rhetorical framing matters a lot, and is tricky: local activists can be more successful by framing their work as a human rights struggle and by positioning that struggle within broader international conceptualizations of human rights, as captured in founding international human rights documents. However, activists must take equal care to translate these concepts into frames that resonate locally and are culturally appropriate. Connections matter: activists are more successful if they build connections with each other—within a particular rights movement and across rights movements, within a country and across countries—and if they build connections to political and economic elites and to a broad constituency base. These vertical, horizontal, and transnational ties can be supported simply by bringing activists together, but also depend on framing, since framing is crucial to how activists see themselves and their peers, how they engage their base, and how they target elites. Organizational structure matters, but there is not an ideal type of organization that consistently is more successful in advocating for improved human rights; rather, organizational type, formality, and complexity depends on the right being fought for, the goals of the rights movement, and contextual factors such as regime type or level of repression. Tactics matter: activists must use tactics that are appropriate to their rights fight and to their context, and often use many different tactics at different times. However, confrontational and disruptive tactics—such as protests or boycotts—are often more effective.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Social Movement, Democracy, USAID
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Magnus Rasmussen, Carl Henrik Knutsen
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: We propose that the extent to which political parties are institutionalized shapes welfare state development. Institutionalized parties allow politicians to overcome coordination problems, avoid capture by special interests, and form stable linkages with broad social groups. These features both enable and incentivize politicians to pursue generous and universal welfare policies. Employing recent measures of party institutionalization and welfare law features, we test implications from our argument on data covering 169 countries and extending back to 1900. Even when accounting for country- and year-fixed effects and institutional features such as electoral system, regime type and state capacity, we find robust evidence that party institutionalization leads to more extensive, universal, and generous welfare arrangements. The relationship is more pronounced in democracies, but exists also in autocracies. When disaggregating party institutionalization and evaluating mechanisms, the linkages that institutionalized parties form with social groups constitute one important, but not the only relevant, factor.
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC)
  • Abstract: Nations are not helpless if the military decides to stage a coup. On dozens of occasions in recent decades, even in the face of intimidated political leaders and international indifference, civil society has risen up to challenge putschists through large-scale nonviolent direct action and noncooperation. How can an unarmed citizenry mobilize so quickly and defeat a powerful military committed to seizing control of the government? What accounts for the success or failure of nonviolent resistance movements to reverse coups and consolidate democratic gains? This monograph presents in-depth case studies and analysis intended to improve our understanding of the strategic utility of civil resistance against military takeovers; the nature of civil resistance mobilization against coups; and the role of civil resistance against coups in countries’ subsequent democratization efforts (or failure thereof). It offers key lessons for pro-democracy activists and societies vulnerable to military usurpation of power; national civilian and military bureaucracies; external state and non-s
  • Topic: Political Activism, Democracy, Protests, Coup, Resistance, Civil-Military Relations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Frida Boräng, Sverker Jagers, Marina Povitkina
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg,
  • Abstract: One of the central questions in research on the drivers behind public good provision is how political regimes and institutions impact the provision of public goods. Previous research within this field has shown that democratic history is positively related to public good provision, including the universal provision of reliable electricity. In this paper, we elaborate on these findings by investigat ing how corruption interacts with democratic history in shaping electricity provision. It is argued that since corruption can shape the implementation process of public policies as well as the policy choices, high levels of corruption are likely to limit the positive effect of democratic experience. Following Min (2015), we measure electricity provision by the share of population living in unlit areas. We find that democratic history leads to higher electrification rates only when corruption is relatively low. In high-corrupt contexts, however, the positive effect of democratic history is absent.
  • Topic: Corruption, Democracy, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Bo Rothstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Quality of Government Institute, University of Gothenburg,
  • Abstract: The following arguments are presented. 1) Corruption in its various forms is a serious social ill. 2) Democracy is not a safe cure against corruption. 3) Increased gender equality seems to be one important factor behind getting corruption under control. 4) Impartiality in the exercise of public power, not least, when it “translates” into meritocratic recruitment and promotion in the public administration, has a powerful effect on lowering corruption. 5) While some aspects of impartiality are central for gender equality, research results are mixed. Some show that impartial principles promotes gender equality, others show that gender bias exists also in many processes designed to be impartial. Going from these results to policy recommendation is thus fraught with many difficulties. One is how to handle problems of legitimacy in the implementation process for various forms of preferential treatment of discriminated groups. Since these problems are impossible to handle, we may be in for a “Churchillian” argument. Like representative democracy, meritocracy may be a far from ideal solution for lowering corruption and thereby promoting human well-being, but it may be the least bad of existing alternatives.
  • Topic: Corruption, Gender Issues, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael Bernhard, Amanda B Edgell, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: While it is clear that contemporary authoritarian incumbents use democratic emulation as a strategy in the hopes of stabilizing and extending their tenure in power, this does not mean it is always effective. Indeed, an extant literature presents strong evidence that the opening of the pursuit of power to electoral competition can make authoritarianism vulnerable. Unless it is mediated by other factors, democratic emulation by authoritarian incumbents cannot simultaneously both stabilize their rule and make it more vulnerable to democratic transitions. These two literatures leave us with a set of contradictory generalizations. Some scholars argue that reiterated multiparty competitive elections present a gradual path from authoritarianism to democracy. Can they at the same time be a source of authoritarian stability? In this paper we seek to resolve this paradox by employing a unique combination of event history modeling to assess how experiences with multiparty elections influence patterns of authoritarian survival and transition in 108 countries from 1946-2010. Our results suggest that while authoritarian regimes face increasing odds of failure during the first three iterated multiparty and competitive election cycles, subsequent iterated cycles are far less dangerous to their survival. Given that few authoritarian regimes survive past three elections, these findings should be seen as more supportive of the democratization by elections thesis than democratic emulation as a way to enhance authoritarian survival.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tove Ahlbom, Marina Povitkina
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: Natural disasters cause suffering for millions of people around the globe every year and as climate change unfolds the likelihood of natural catastrophes is increasing. While weather shocks, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, and floods are beyond our control, a governments’ capacity to protect populations largely determines the degree of human suffering in disasters. Democracies, with freedom of speech, broad public participation and representation, are believed to protect their populations better than non-democratic regimes. However, democratic institutions are insufficient for securing protection from disasters in contexts of corruption, poor planning and public administration incompetence. We argue that the effect of democracy on the extent of human suffering in disasters is contingent on the ability of governments to implement their tasks or the quality of implementing institutions. We test this interaction hypothesis using time series cross-sectional data from the Varieties of Democracy project, the Quality of Government dataset and data from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters. The results show that more democracy is associated with fewer people being affected by natural disasters only in settings where institutional quality is high. When institutional quality is low, more people seem to suffer in democracies than in authoritarian states.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Authoritarianism, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Suthan Krishnarajan, Jørgen Møller, Lasse Lykke Rørbæk, Svend-Erik Skaaning
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: An influential body of scholarship has associated both democracy and democratization with civil war. Important findings include the so-called inverted U-shaped relationship between democracy-levels and civil war onset and that propensity for democratic openings to spark internal violence. However, most of these findings have been challenged, particularly by scholars pointing to problems with the aggregate nature of the analyses and the data sources used. Against this background, we enlist new, fine-grained data from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Project. We discuss how the new data can be used to disaggregate regime variables in order to better understand the causal dynamics that link the regime form and regime change to civil war onset, if any. Guided by these considerations, we use the new data to reassess the ‘inverted U-curve’. Our analysis shows that this relationship is driven by ‘liberal’ aspects of democracy such as freedom of assembly and freedom of speech rather than by the ‘electoral core’ of democracy. The relationship between clean elections and civil war onset is approximately linearly decreasing, and at the indicator level of the clean elections attribute we find several different patterns.
  • Topic: Civil War, Democratization, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Patrik Lindenfors, Joshua Krusell, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: This paper presents a new method inspired by evolutionary biology for analyzing longer sequences of requisites for the emergence of particular outcome variables across numerous combinations of ordinal variables in social science analysis. The approach involves repeated pairwise investigations of states in a set of variables and identifying what states in the variables that occur before states in all other variables. We illustrate the proposed method by analyzing a set of variables from version 6 of the V-Dem dataset (Coppedge et al. 2015a, b). With a large set of indicators measured over many years, the method makes it possible to explore long, complex sequences across many variables in quantitative datasets. This affords an opportunity, for example, to disentangle the sequential requisites of failing and successful sequences in democratization. For policy purposes this is instrumental: Which components of democracy are most exogenous and least endogenous and therefore the ideal targets for democracy promotion at different stages?
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Rachel Sigman, Staffan I. Lindberg
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem)
  • Abstract: One of the most common adjectives used to describe democracy in sub-Saharan Africa is "neopatrimonial". Characterized by strong executives, pervasive clientelism and use of state resources for political legitimation (Bratton and van de Walle 1997), neopatrimonial democracy has been (controversially) associated with a range of (mostly undesirable) social, political and economic outcomes. This paper offers an empirical assessment of neopatrimonialism in Africa's political regimes. We show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, African regimes vary both quantitatively and qualitatively in their embodiment of neopatrimonial rule. Moreover, we find no clear evidence indicating that neopatrimonialism necessarily impedes the advancement or survival of democracy
  • Topic: Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wolfgang Streeck
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: The rise of the consolidation state follows the displacement of the classical tax state, or Steuerstaat, by what I have called the debt state, a process that began in the 1980s in all rich capitalist democracies. Consolidation is the contemporary response to the “fiscal crisis of the state” envisaged as early as the late 1960s, when postwar growth had come to an end. Both the long-term increase in public debt and the current global attempts to bring it under control were intertwined with the “financialization” of advanced capitalism and its complex functions and dysfunctions. The ongoing shift towards a consolidation state involves a deep rebuilding of the political institutions of postwar democratic capitalism and its international order. This is the case in particular in Europe where consolidation coincides with an unprecedented increase in the scale of political rule under European Monetary Union and with the transformation of the latter into an asymmetric fiscal stabilization regime. The paper focuses on the developing structure of the new consolidation regime and its consequences for the relationship between capitalism and democracy.
  • Topic: Debt, Monetary Policy, Democracy, Capitalism, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ashley W. Hooper
  • Publication Date: 11-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for Minority Issues
  • Abstract: In February 2014, violent protests erupted in Tuzla and quickly spread to multiple other Bosnian cities, including Mostar and Sarajevo. Initially, the protests were labeled as the “Bosnian Spring,” a term used to describe a state that is undergoing revolutionary change; however, this term was used prematurely in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina and by April the protest movement had completely lost momentum. The cause for dissatisfaction among citizens was driven by nearly a decade of political stagnation. The lack of political progression can largely be attributed to the legacy of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which brought an end to the ethnically driven atrocities. However, the agreement also formed a uniquely complicated governmental structure based on ethnicity—providing a political framework in which elites are able to evade accountability. Political competition has been greatly decreased by the continued presence of wartime-ethno parties, which dominate the political discourse—perpetuating fear and mistrust among the electorate. I argue that there is a crisis of democratization halting the political progression and European integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina caused by a lack of both political accountability and competition.
  • Topic: Political Theory, Elections, Democracy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: June Sekera
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University
  • Abstract: Non-market public production makes up a quarter to a half or more of all economic activity in advanced democratic nation-states. Yet here in the United States the public economy’s ability to function productively on behalf of the citizenry is seriously imperiled. In this paper I trace the connection between mainstream, market-centric economics and what James Galbraith has called “the collapse of the public governing capacity.” Marketization and its confederate, privatization, have led, sometimes intentionally, to the evisceration of governmental capacity, the downsizing of democracy and the dismantling of traditions of responsible public administration that are grounded in law and the Constitution. Over the last decades, apostles of the market have intruded upon government a pseudo-market with outcomes ranging from the unfortunate to the disastrous. So-called “New Public Management” –“a child of neoclassical economics,” – has colonized and weakened every level of public administration. Hollowed out through the cathartic of a “competition prescription,” the public sector time and again seems to fail us, so systems of performance measurement transplanted from profit-driven business models are being imposed across government, ostensibly to improve results and better supply what the populace wants and needs, but instead often leaving harm in their wake. We find our most basic public services and rights in jeopardy: from clean air and water to unencumbered judicial due process. While government “reinventors” boast about shrinking government, in reality a “submerged state” mushrooms through an explosion of private profit- making contractors and behind the hidden hand of tax expenditures. Yet, as I argue in this paper, there is no viable explanatory theory of the public non-market economy or of production within it, nor any consensus about how to measure public purpose or assess results in the public domain. Instead, a market-centric economics prevails in textbooks, university teaching and public policy, while private, market-mimicking motivations and values displace public purpose in measurement schemes.
  • Topic: Governance, Democracy, Public Sector, Private Sector, Non-Market Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus