The discussions about the regime transition seem more confusing and complicated now that we consider the two perspectives: one of Schmitter and O’Donnell and the other of Kuran and Beissinger.
All the strategies and mechanisms described by the authors suggest thorough investigation of steps taken and the possible consequences and the influence of different factors on their final outcome of the transition. However, coming back to the discussions of a couple of weeks ago I refer to the cultural aspect and specifications of nations (values, etc.) that are not considered in any of the materials. Protests work in some countries where the structures are clear and defined, where institutions develop based on civil society development, education improvements, according to modular model even through elite learning, etc. In other cases they fail, because of regimes power of suppression, weak opposition mechanisms, regime’s preparedness to moderate and control organization of massive actions. It is specific from case to case because of the differences of goals and perspectives of the different actors of the countries as well as the time when events happen. Also, I think that the values and the culture need to be considered to answer the question.
I would risk assuming that the strategies are “modular” to oppose only certain types of known and established regimes. Each regime will face different set of modular strategies. However, I would still question their success in case there is a longer period of uncertainty or a hybrid regime case if there is such.
Following from my previous post, I wanted to address a 4th issue of French influence on Senegalese politics separately:
4. Dennis Galvan discusses a metaphor for the division of Senegalese society in “Political Turnover and Social Change in Senegal.” He describes the country as being split into two parts, the ‘urban Four Communes and the rural Colonial Territory’. The people in the communes, he says, were developed to be a part of French society. They were educated and accepted into the higher classes. In other readings I saw these people called Evolues. The rest of the people in the ‘Colonial Territory,’ or Paysans, weren’t included in this bestowing of privilege, and were ignored and exempt from consideration in the government.
Senegal hasn’t kept this stratification in society to the same degree as it was. Physical and social mobility has changed a lot.
Yet, I am considering using the metaphor to show the difference between Islamic and French influence in the political mindset of the people. The two groups sided together against the French in the independence movement, therefore bringing the different influences together in the resulting society of today.
With these recent few research journals, I am basically trying to define the sections in my paper that I think I need to understand better to complete this paper. I will be exploring these topics in relationship to my overall focus on social unrest in Senegal. They may appear in the paper, or simply serve as a basis for my own understanding of the situation and a jumping-off point for the issues I am considering.
I need to more closely define exactly how the French influence has developed the Senegalese political mindset. It is hard to extract this from the general development of Senegalese democracy, since the French colonial structure gave birth to it. I’m having a difficult time finding information about specific concepts that Senegalese people learned from French rule, but here are a few important things:
1. Some Senegalese citizens had voting rights as far back as 1848. I’d think that this enhances the people’s understanding of the country’s participatory politics.
2. Forms of unrest, like strikes, boycotts, and picketing, were not indigenous to African society. They were learned from the colonial administration, but I need to establish this connection.
3. The Senegalese developed the language of social movements in response to the French ignoring their voices.
To be continued…
I wrote this paragraph in my draft:
“The area in West Africa that is now determined to be the country of Senegal was beginning to experience the invasion of French power in the 1850s. This is the time that defined how the politics of Islam would interact with the coming state. Though the two forces, French power and Islam, are inherently linked in the creation of Senegalese politics, to untangle the threads and focus on one at a time will help determine their specific effects.”
Now as I continue my research, I am questioning the depth that I can get into if I explore both topics in the same paper. I would have plenty of information and ideas if I went with either one. It could be Islam’s effect on social movements, or French colonial effect on social movements. Why am I trying to do both? I think I need to further explore the connection. Right now I believe that both had a profound impact on the way Senegalese democracy works. How are the two related/different? They aren’t comparable, since both happened at different times, and in different ways. I think the key to this problem is deconstructing current social unrest and seeing how it has grown from the two influences.
While doing this reading I was trying to visualize the different aspects of what Kuran and Beissinger were discussing. I didn’t find the charts in Beissinger’s article to be particularly helpful in an overall sense, so I devised my own infographic in response to the articles. I believe that it covers the blog prompt as well.
In the readings for both last Wednesday and this Monday, we’ve encountered discussions of the role of protest and direct action against authoritarian regimes in getting to a successful democratic transition. But where the work of Schmitter and O’Donnell suggest that protest is merely the starting point for a transition, and that negotiation and “pacting” with existing members of the regime are necessary to ensure the long-term survival of the new order, Kuran and Beissinger propose a genuinely revolutionary model, in which protest and mass action succeed on their own in overthrowing old regimes.
My question then is this: Why do protests work to overthrow regimes in some places and not in others? Does a successful protest movement (like the one in Serbia that overthrew Milosevich) only work against a certain type of regime, or are their strategies truely “modular”?
Applying the dynamics of the transition theory on the Egyptian case for the 2011 requires identifying the players in the Egyptian political scene. However, due to the uncertainty of events that took place after the 2011 revolution, those players vary with respect to time (during the first 18 days or during the military supervision or after the election of the MB president). Since this paper views that the regime transition phase started with January 25th protests and ends with the election of MB candidate, the time that will be considered for analysis is the first 18 days and then the following 18 months when the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF) was ruling the country. Hence the transition in these two stages could include four players (the regime loyalists, the soft liners (who could be the military for that during the first 18 days they were defending the regime and the people at the same time, the moderate opposition (MB and other liberal parties that emerged after the revolution) and the extremist opposition which could be the Islamist fundamentalist groups as the Salafis.
I think in the case of Syria I would imagine being among the rebellious leaders for that the regime transition is the only scenario for me to obtain power or achieve democracy. So if I aim at being in power, it depends on the society on how I will present myself as a soft liner or an opposition leader whose ideas of fundamental nature. This theory assumes that the path to democracy entails transition and transition in this case entails a lot of uncertainty and that the course to democracy might take a lot of time and effort and throughout that course the players can switch gears to achieve the most. For me this idea of players changing the way they present their role in transition is very familiar with the events of the Egyptian revolution for that I believe that when the military took power after Mubarak stepped down, the military presented itself back then as a soft liner and provided protection to the old regime leaders and to the institution. In Syria’s case the nature of the opposition diversified with the intensity of the conflict and that this conflict created more rapture on the side of the opposition than it did for the ruling power and the soft liners didn’t have a chance to unify people to take over the country at that stage and with the alignment of the military with the regime civil war became an outcome of that regime transition and is projected to prolong it and threaten the possibility of stability in the near future.
For this weeks research journal I wanted to discuss my research question: what are the major barriers to China’s democratization within the next 20 years. I was unable to attend class this week due to personal issues and was unable to turn in a rough draft of my paper for peer review, but I believe that I am on the right track and have some good sources that help explain my reasonings. As Kara commented on my last research post, I am going to explore the previous British colonization and its effect on censorship. From what I have learned and read so far, I found little correlation between former British colonization and the severity of censorship. The Communist Party of China has slowly been losing its influence in politics and I believe that the public pressure for more civil and political rights has made politics in China more open. In recent years China has passed legislation that makes government more open and transparent. I believe that I need to focus on Taiwan because of its influence on the area.
I wanted to add a section that discusses things other than the barriers to China’s democratization process. I want to discuss how other countries are pressuring China to democratize, but I am not sure how/if this will fit into my paper.
After Monday’s class, I’ve been thinking about how I can narrow down my question.
So here’s my new stab at the question asked in class:
Topic: Protest groups in the current Russian government
Question: What do these demonstrations tell us about the success/failure of democratization under the Putin regime?
Answer: This is the tricky part. Because there is a strong Pro-Putin movement, one could argue that the government is working. I of course am not. There is proof of coercion and fraud that brings about these supporters. Also, the anti-Putin movement is growing in size and gaining international attention/support, like with the Pussy Riot protests. So my argument is that these protest prove that an increasing amount of citizens are displease with the democratization of their nation.