In my search for information regarding my research topic, Spain’s transition from fascism to democracy, I found a really great article that outlined exactly what I was looking for. The author, Eugenio Bregolat, was Spain’s ambassador to China, Russia, India, and Canada and the also a foreign policy advisor at different points in time so he is very knowledgeable on Spanish politics. He discussed the important factors that helped contribute to such a smooth transition. These included the influence from other democratic European countries and their linkage to Spain, as well as the large middle class that was forming. Other factors were the push from King Juan Carlos, strong nationalism, and the death of the fascist dictator, Francisco Franco. With this outline I can now began to further look into these causes and explore the transition more in depth. This article was very helpful and a good starting point.
Bregolat, Eugenio. “Spain’s Transition to Democracy.” SAIS Review 19.2 (1999), 149-155.
Mali: When a “Democratic” state collapses
Mali gained independence in 1960. Mobibo Keita the first president was toppled down in 1968 by a milirary coup led by Lieutenant Moussa Traore. Traore ruled Mali for 23 years with single political party system. He, in his turn, left power in 1991 following a military coup under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Amadou Toumani Toure. March, 22, 2011, Amadou Toumani Toure was deposed by yet another military coup. In addition, 2/3 the country fails into the hands of several groups of terrorists: AQMI, MUJAO, MNLA, Ansar-Dine and Boko Haram. In this paper there will be an attempt to focus on the loopholes in the Malian democracy and the causes that led to such dramatic and humiliating a downfall.
After one of year of transition, Alpha Oumar Konare won the presidential election in 1992. Malian welcomed the change with Frenzy: Democracy and a multiparty system. Soon, Konare will make Mali well-known through the world with his charismatic speech and his loud and deep voice. He negotiated with the Tuareg rebels and obtained a peace treaty. The country will remain stable during both of his terms. However, other institutions such as the ministry of education, the army, and local farmers have not reached the same level of satisfaction as the Tuareg. These fields were neglected from the second half of Konare’s regime till the end. Corruption spread like a plague over the country from top to bottom.
Sources: Chinua Achiebe “A man of The People”
Susanna Wing: “Constructing Democracy in Africa: Mali in Transition”.
How Has Ghana Achieved and Maintained Democracy and What Obstacles Lie Ahead?
In this paper, I would like to address the journey of Ghana’s democratization and plan to explore the colonial undertones that continue to linger in Ghana’s government. Another topic I would like to touch on is the violation of human rights in Ghana—though the human rights issue is far less severe in Ghana that many of its neighboring countries, there are still some issues that it seems the government has chose to turn a blind eye to. Coincidently, a number of the human rights that are being violated are those that many of the colonists also chose to turn a blind eye to and even opposed including the major issue of women’s rights.
Although it was difficult for me to narrow down my subject matter for the research paper, I have chosen to focus on the Spanish transition from a fascist regime to democratic and the difficulties they have experienced. My grandparents immigrated here during the rule of Fransisco Franco so I have heard stories of government under him and am enthusiastic to research more on this transition. I would also like to focus on socialistic values in play within their democracy that are not always traditionally considered democratic.
Both articles highlight the idea that there is not one form of democracy but rather many ways in which forms of democracy or governments with democratic aspects can function around the world. I find that generally Americans believe that the way in which our democracy operates is the “right” way for a democracy to operate and that it is the standard all countries should meet. I do believe that “western liberal democracy” is more functional compared to “competitive authoritarianism” and “illiberal democracies” but I recognize that certain functions of these governments are democratic. While I believe that transitioning to a democracy that resembles “western liberal democracy” is a step in the right direction for “transitional democracies,” I agree with Zakaria when he says “western liberal democracy might prove to be not the final destination on the democratic road, but just one of the many possible exits.”
Having said that, I do believe that democracy in essence must respect our “inalienable rights” in which case I believe that “western liberal democracy,” is quite a few steps ahead of many countries who function under “competitive authoritarianism” or “illiberal democracies”. Therefore I can understand the argument that “western liberal democracy” should be the standard barer of democracy and do believe that “western liberal democracy” is the furthest along the democratic path. I recognize that it has many flaws and that more progress should and will be made. Therefore I would argue that, while quite a few steps ahead of “competitive authoritarianism” and “illiberal democracy,” we could view “western liberal democracy” as being in a state of progress as well. I say this because even if every countries democracy operated the way in which the United States or Great Britain’s does, I don’t think we would consider it a perfect world or feel that the ultimate form of democracy has been reached. Instead all democratic and semi-democratic states are on the path toward a “true” form of democracy, some are further along then others but none have met a final destination. Therefore each state that continues to seek democracy will progress at their pace and continue reach new levels.
As I was working on narrowing my topic on the process of democratization in Mauritania, I realized that there are almost no available sources here on democracy in Mauritania in the period prior to the new millennium. Thanks to Dr. Kendhammer, I acquired an excellent book entitled Mauritania, the Struggle for Democracy written by Noel Foster. My vision of the topic starts becoming clearer after acquiring the book . Foster tackles the the recent and crucial period in the process of democratization going from 2005 to 2009 when the current regime came in power. In fact this period knew the end of authoritarianism with the departure of Taya’s regime that lasted more than 22 years, the foundation of real democratic institutions during the transitional period in 2005-2007, and the collapse of democracy again in 2008. Hence, I think I will focus much on this period from 2005 to present, and try to observe the ups and downs of the indicator of democracy in Mauritania. It is a very rich period of time that witnessed a wave of ebb and flow between the military junta and civil forces towards the establishment of different forms of democracy.
However, I will keep looking for other sources, and here I call for your assistance in any kind, if you have any idea or suggestion that my help, you are more than welcome to share it.
After reading these articles, I do not believe “illiberal democracies” or “competitive authoritarian” regimes are making great strides toward more democracy to come nor a stable autocracy. However, I do believe they could easily fall into either category. As Zakaria stated,
Naturally there is a spectrum of illiberal democracy, tramping from modest offenders like Argentina to near-tyrannies like Kazakstan and Belarus, with countries like Romania and Bangladesh in between. Along much of the spectrum, elections are rarely as free and fair as in the West today, but they do reflect the reality of popular participation and support for those elected. (p. 23)
Though they are not as “free and fair” as in the West, they do however function along relatively the same lines in reference to popular participation and support for those who are elected. Therefore, countries like Argentina would be less likely to be considered an autocracy in disguise than Kazakstan, for example, who would seem more likely to be an autocracy in disguise.
All together, as I previously mentioned, “illiberal democracies” or “competitive authoritarian” regimes are composed of many factors and ‘spectrums’ which make each case in each country unique. Thus resulting in a split conclusion, that depending on the country, either result could be achieved but it would require a process that would take time.
Illiberal democracies or competitive authoritarian regimes could apply some democracy procedures to sound internationally legitimate. However they take measures that affect this legitimacy later as they undermine the autonomy of the institutions of democracy as the legislature and the judiciary or when they restrict the freedoms and censor the media.
Illiberal democracies could be argued to be on the path constitutional liberty when we reconsider the steps needed for democratization, the advocator of that democratization process and the evaluation of this process.
The approach to democratization needs consideration so that it can balance between the procedural steps (elections, existence of institutions and competitive media) and the substantive steps (as the role of the judicial system in regulating the elections and dealing with violations, the strength of the institutions and that they can stand up to the president, that the media is objective in its coverage and that the opposition is being represented in the media). These steps are required to avoid the relapse of the country to authoritarian forms of government or stagnation of a competitive authoritarian system.
So for the advocator of this democratization process we need to analyze if this process called upon internally or externally. For that problem of democratization as a process is that for most of the developing countries or the third wave countries who relapsed to any hybrid form of democracy or autocracy is that it is a process of foreign intervention. It’s a goal that has been imposed on the country in order to receive more aid or to ensure national security, hence leaders could justify violating democracy to the people as means to stand up to the foreign intervention. This aspect of democracy being defined by the west and imposed by the west could explain the popularity of the different authoritarian regimes for that they might incorporate national elements as religion or ethnicity or their authoritarian ruling. Hence in these cases it is easier to organize people to vote based on their religious, or tribal, or ethnic preferences bringing competition elements to the autocratic system.
For the evaluation of the country’s path for democracy instead of depending on only the procedural aspects as they are more measurable we need to depend on the substantive aspects even if based on qualitative measures. For example, instead of depending on the number of parties competing in the elections as a determinant of competitiveness we need to evaluate the aspects of the campaigns: whether the public was provided with enough information to guide their choice, whether all parties were given the same chance of publicity and so on.
Judging the progress of illiberal democracies in relation to the institutions and ideas of democracy is certainly a complicated task. Illiberal democracies have held a dichotomy in their practice: many assert their harsh authoritarian practices limit personal freedom and subvert the liberal tradition that some believe necessary for real, egalitarian democracy while conducting free (and occasionally fair) elections. Institutionally speaking, these democracies practice the formal elements such as elections but smother personal freedom of almost every kind. The United States Bill of Rights, a shining example of a formal list of individual rights, could be a document that many would point to as an example of the basic freedoms which illiberal democracies should adopt and protect. Rights that protect citizens from illegal search and seizure and cruel and usual punishment as well as due process, habeas corpus, and trial by jury are all paramount to the establishment of liberal democracy. However, if America is so quick to condemn an illiberal democracy for the ways in which it treats its citizens, why do we fail to show outrage when we are spied on without warrant or our enemies are given indefinite detention without trial?
I believe the institutions of liberalism are necessary for a healthy and egalitarian democracy, but democracy still may function in its most basic sense without these institutions. The illiberal democracies of the world may slip closer to authoritarianism or egalitarianism by nature of their institutions and actions, but many of the big questions still go unanswered. Illiberal democracies are lambasted for suspending the rule of law and deeply infringing on what many would call basic human rights. Today, the same rights continue to be infringed upon by liberal democracies in the name of national security. We are forced to consider whether the institutions of liberalism are enough to protect the individual in a way that is compatible with our vision of human rights.
Illiberal democracies or competitive authoritarians clearly lack essential elects that would make them legitimate democracies. Although they have made some progress towards that, there is still a long way to go. Through their hybridization these governmental regimes offer a few benefits of a democratic regime with some other, more undesirable, traits thrown in. The proceduralism of elections is a strong positive characteristic present in these hybrid democracies, yet they are not always fair and free. The corruption that occurs within these governments often leads to less desirable results for the people. As previously discussed in class the bribery that occurs make help these people for the moment but long term results are far less likely. This leaves the citizens weak and, with corrupt elections, left with no way to effectively make change happen. The fact elections are happening at all is a step in the right direction for these states. The next, and most important step would be making them fair and free for all people. Until this occurs they will forever be unstable with violence being a huge factor in those who govern. This violence and strong stakes within election competitiveness make for a weak and unstable state that cannot be considered fullyna democracy even if the institutions are in place.