Blog Post 4/22

The United States has used a variety of options in order to promote democracy within China.  The US has allocated monies towards NGOS in order to promote civil society within the region. However, the Chinese see this as the US trying to impede their current economic growth and trying to destabilize the current region.  Furthermore, the democracy promotion seems to act as a “strategic threat within the area. This is due to the fact that the  democracy project has “cut to the core of China’s territorial integrity, with Bill Clinton supporting Tibet, George W. Bush supporting Taiwan, and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) supporting Xinjiang’s separatism”( He,  2013). Furthermore, China is trying to “securitize” the region in order to combat democratic promotion within the country. In this way, the public security institution will want to ensure that any democratic reform will not undermine the current national security framework, and that all political reform programs are closely monitored by the Ministry of State and Security (He, 2013).

 

However, this does not completely dismiss all the promotions that the US is implementing. Furthermore, the US should try to collaborate with Chinese officials in order to perpetuate policy that both sides have incentives in. For example, a lot of local and even national officials of China have expressed interest In administrative law.  This demands both a responsive government and one that limits the excess of administrative power (He, 2013).  Furthermore, the US needs to be clear with China that they have no interest in changing the agenda in Beijing. This will ultimately lead to more collaboration and discussions if China does not feel threatened by the US democratic promotion programs.

Blog Post 4-15

Although the Chinese are taking some steps to become democratic, I do not believe they had addressed many of the procedural and substantive measures of democracy. Although there are elections being utilized on a local level, they still are completely within the interest of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). Furthermore, the chinese have seemed to reject many of the liberal notions of democracy witheld in the Western tradition. However, a move toward elections is a very crucial step in maybe defining and seeing opportunities of democratic openness in China. This elections would have been crushed if the totalitarian Mao regime was still inaction. However, due to economic globalization and privatization, there are many patterns of new behavior that could be exhibited in a democracy.

However, the CCP has complete control of elections and resource distribution. Although these elections are taking place, the one party has complete authority and also has all the resources in order to facilitate or grow the state of China. Although elections are taking place, there are no other institutions that seem to challenge the political elite. These practically are mere facades in order to please the locals and make them feel as if their vote actually matters.

In addition, these elections really have no influence in changing the ideology of China. They merely represent the “intra-party competition” in order to garner more support within the actual party. Furthermore, these elections will always have to be legitimated by the CCP and therefore, no strategic leadership positions will ever be changed within the country. Everything is planned and done in accordance with Chinese tradition.

Research Journal

A variety of my research being conducted this week revolves around trying to find a theory to best explain why it is so difficult for oppositional parties to mobilize in the Dominican Republic. While doing research, I was confronted with Michael Kryzanek’s article Diversion, Subversion and Repression: The Strategies of Anti-Opposition Politics in Balaguer’s Dominican Republic. This article was very helpful because it explained how oppositional mobilization is a crucial issue throughout all of Latin America.  Party mobilization is difficult in Latin American political system because it is ingrained with conservatism, caudillism, and a hostility towards those who seek to introduce Anglo-American structures that allow for oppositional parties to even exists. Therefore, this article looks at the bigger picture of oppositional mobilization using the Dominican Republic as a case study (A perfect article for citing in my research paper).

The paper contends that the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD)(The lead oppositional Dominican Republic Party) has strong merit to say they have political influence throughout the region. However, they seem to be squashed numerously due to Joaquín Balaguer’s  “autocratic, dependent and repressive brand of government”(Kryzanek 1977, p. 85).

The regime of Balaguer has ceded to break the influence of the PRD by stressing the “diversion of the Dominican populace away from an active concern for political matters: the subversion of PRD leadership ranks, associational groupings and issue areas; and the repression of PRD activists and left-wing supporters of the PRD”(Kryzanek 1997, p. 86). These strategies have been successful considering that Balaguer has successfully been elected for his third (four year term) in office.

The article then concludes about how President Balaguer has helped “modernize” the paternalistic manner of rule, which is ever so common in the Latin American context. He has been able to adapt to the time, and use very repressive tactics in order to destroy or silence his political opposition.  Furthermore, he has been able innovate and modernize techniques of political dominance, social control, and economic and public relations.

Although I did not specifically find a theory that would show why oppositional parties struggle in Latin America, I was able to find how Presidents try to repress these parties. Furthermore, I will need to do a little more research on caudillism and conservatism in the Latin American context to use as a template to explain lack of oppositional party mobilization in the Latin American context.

Blog Post 4-8

In Eva Bellin’s article, the exceptionally of the Middle East and North Africa “lies not so much in absent prerequisites of democracy as in present conditions that foster robust authoritarianism”(152). Factors such as a weak civil society, a command economy, illiteracy, geographic remoteness from successful democracies, and Islamic dictation are not credible factors that contribute to why democracy is not flourishing in the region. Rather, Bellin argues that these authoritarian governments are very robust and have successful security apparatuses. Therefore, conditions like abundant rent helps subsidize much of the cost associated with fueling the dictators security apparatuses. In addition, due to multiple western security reforms, leaders of these countries tend to seize an abundance of power in order to “save” their countries from being taken over by the West. Furthermore, the prevalence of patrimionialism and low level of popular mobilization is not unique to the region but contribute immensely to the lack of democratic mobilization in the region.

Furthermore, Diamond’s article illustrated also possible examples of how why the Middle East and North African regions have not mobilized democracies. Diamond believes that the oil prices need to decrease, there needs to be a strong example of democracy in the region, and the US needs to take pragmatic policy decisions in order to aid and promote democratic practices in the region in order for democracies to flourish in the region. However, I think that democracies need to be mobilized once the political stakes of the game are decreased. The Saudi King is never going to give up his power because all of his economic resources are allocated in the state-owned oil interest. Furthermore, I believe that popular mobilization is changing rapidly with the advent of the Internet and social networking sites that can be used to mobilize citizens across the world.

Blog Post 3-1

I think that the “modular” strategy is successful because it is based upon “prior successful example of others”(Beissinger 259). Therefore, regimes that have similar characteristics are likely to be overthrown based upon similar strategies. The instances where the modular strategies do not work are those in which the regimes differ very differently.

 

For example, look at regimes that depend heavily on natural resources. One example that was used in the reading was that Ross found “evidence for three separate mechanisms that make oil-export economies more likely to be associated with economic rule”(Beissinger 267). These mechanisms include:

1)Use lower tax rates and patronage to diminish democratic pressure

2)Greater capacity towards wealth generated from natural resource profits in order to strengthen their security apparatus

3)Growth in economies based in oil tend not to foster social and cultural changes(like education) that generate pressure towards democratic government.

 

Therefore, in differing regimes, the modular approach could probably not be applied consistently throughout all of the post-soviet governments. Furthermore, activist can look at successful examples of revolutions in order to perpetuate these policies into action. However, this modular change has “significant implications for what follows after”(Beissinger 273). Therefore, some of these democracies that have emerged are products of their further revolutionized partners. This can be problematic because they do not address the “developing structural conditions necessary for establishing a stable democracy on their own”(Beissinger 274). Thus, adequate change and robust democracies are not as likely due to the fact that same institutions and policies might not uniformly apply to every post-soviet government.

Research Journal

While doing my research on the Dominican Republic, I have came across a theme of neo-patrimonialism. This is a type of political regime that can make the distinction between democracy and authoritarian regimes very tricky. The factors that are conducive to  Neo-Patrimonialism are ” high levels of inequality, a low level of formal political and social organization, and the prevalence of clientelism, broker- age, and parties of limited programs and/or low ideological content” (Hartlyn 95).

Furthermore, the two common characteristics that define neo-patrimonialism are “(1) a centralization of power in the hands of the ruler, who seeks to reduce the autonomy of his followers; and (2) a blurring of public and private purposes within the administration” (Hartlyn).

Therefore, the discussion between corruption and patronage fit very well into the Dominican Republic contest. This legacy of patrimonialism has had serious implications on electoral fraud and lack of transitioning power throughout the region. This can be seen through the Joaquín Balaguer regime, one that was guided through patrimonial tendencies, however it has starting to become increasingly more authoritarian in its stature. This system further creates a lack of institutional autonomy, making it very easy for the authoritative leader, like Balaguer to assume power and institutionalize leaders that he payed for their support.

 

Therefore, the link i’m going to make is how non consolidated  neo-patrimonial tendencies have really taken a toll on the procedural aspect of democracy in Latin America. Furthermore, without a conflicting elite class that is not very dispensable  it could be very difficult for the Dominican Republican democracy to succeed. There needs to be more research done too see the other procedural aspects that are hindering the quality of procedural democracy in the Dominican. However, I am confident that this neo-patrimonialistic tendencies can explain at the root cause of a lot of procedural problems throughout the Dominican Republic.

Blog Post 3-18

The two strategies of voter fraud have pervasive impacts that can be seen throughout the readings. The strategy that can add to the candidate’s total votes has negative implications about the democratic quality of a government. However, the most pervasive and threatening issue of voter fraud is the suppression of votes of an opposing candidate. In order to have a transparent democracy, each candidate has to have an equal chance in receiving votes without them being tampered. Although the political implications of inflating votes is staggering, the overall controversy of suppression of an opposition votes will last even after the election through public unrest and lack of political participation.

The result of voter suppression of a candidate will provide long-term implications and can easily change the tides of the government. Voter suppression is a type of fraud that anyone can be victim too. When one inflates their vote, they are not necessarily taking action to detriment or decrease the actual numbers of the oppositional candidates. Although it undermines the quality of the actual elections, voting inflation does not necessarily silence the opposition votes. However, if the community sees that there is no opposition or that the numbers and percentages of the opposition is very meager, then the community and international spectators will see that the elections are not legitimate, and basically refute a major tenant to democracy.

In addition, the inflation of votes by fraud might be an easier crime to fix than the actual suppression of votes. If a leader tends to have control over all the institutions of the democratic game, then they will be able to suppress other oppositional candidates without much public outcry. Therefore, the quasi-democratic regimes are able to suppress votes when the party or leader controls all the facets and institutions of their democratic regime. However, if a leader does not have complete control, and there are independent regulatory bodies that actually regulate elections, it is easier to fix the problem of voter inflation fraud rather than a suppression of an oppositional candidate.

Blog Post 3-13

In Keyssar’s article, he claims that the nation had taken significant steps towards the direction of universal male white suffrage through “the development of the economy, shifts in the social structure, the dynamics of party politicis, the diffusion of democratic ideals, the experiences of war, and the need to matain the militias”(42). Although the changing demographics provided incentives for elite politicians to broaden the pool of suffrage, many states sought to exclude and disenfranchise others. The suffrage of citizens throughout the US was does not resemble a smooth equilibrium, but rather, politicians started to backslide and sideslip universal suffrage due to the impact of “industrialism, sectional conflict, immigration, and westward expansion”(Keyssar 43). The rise of these factors started to provoke many xenophobic sentiments throughout a variety of the states.  Many politicians used “voter fraud” as a way to constrict the electorate throughout many states that were experiencing massive immigrant migration and black migrants from the South. However, these issues were “emotionally charged and could not be reached through rational argument or fine distinction”(Keyssar 43). However, the further consolidation of whiteness by allowing immigrant groups from Western Europe to vote instilled a mobilization of whiteness and further hindered the prospect of allowing African-Americans and other minority groups the right to vote.

Furthermore, Tuck’s article explains how the disenfranchisement of blacks has fostered an environment of relatively little democratic rights.  The Southern elites were able to disenfranchise blacks by interweaving voting rights with the issue of the “negro problem”. Furthermore, after reconstruction, only African-Americans were taking the proper steps to ensure the suffrage, and they did not have much backing by these Southern States.  In addition, the southern states did not provide economic opportunity or resources for these African-Americans making mobilization nearly impossible, especially at the ballot box.  The reactionary tendencies of the Southern elite eventually would mobilize a movement that has very undemocratic purposes (596 Tuck).

Therefore, these articles provided a somewhat troubling message of how voter suffrage can be expanded. It seems they provide that only through interest convergence of the elite that suffrage will be expanded. Therefore, to analyze other developing countries, activist need to find ways in which to persuade the elite that universal suffrage will benefit their group as a whole. In addition, through changing demographics and a rising standard of living throughout developing countries, elites will be more inclined to allow broader participation within their governments.

Research Journal

While doing my research, I stumbled upon an article about voter turn out throughout Latin America is dropping rapidly after the first elections are held. Although there are many institutional, demographic, and political variables that suffice to making democracy work as a whole, Latin America is struggling to figure out how to balance all these variables in order to have a stable and liberal democracy. The Article by Kostadinova and Power suggests that “citizens begin to disengage from electoral participation almost immediately after the democratic transition has been completed”(20). There studies have founded that these primary founding elections show great importance based on the historical legacies of each of the Latin Americans countries. However, as further elections have taken place, there are fewer voters that are turning out to vote in one of the most crucial institutions to a democracy. However, they pose that more research needs to be done in order to find if these statistics draw a correlation to other developing democratic nations throughout the world.

Therefore, a major issue of democratization in Latin America is going to be the willingness of the people to vote. Although the founding elections in Latin America are crucial, the institutions need to foster a sense of accountability and lower the stakes of the political game. These founding elections are prominent because they establish the first elite leaders of these democratic institutions. Furthermore, the stakes of giving up power in these democracies excel due to patronage and access to power throughout Latin America.

I need to do more research on the political culture of Latin America in order to answer these challenges to democratization throughout the Latin American landscape. However, cultural legacies, religious institutions, and access to resources are among the variables that seem to deter Latin America from being able to achieve a robust democracy.

 

Kostadinova, Tatiana, and Timothy J. Power. “Does Democratization Depress

Participation?: Voter Turnout In The Latin American And Eastern European

Transitional Democracies.” Political Research Quarterly 3 (2007): 363.

JSTOR Arts & Sciences II. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.

Blog Post for 2-18

I’m not sure if it’s even possible to answer that question. Many monolithic Judeo-Christian religions are not necessarily completely compatible with democracy. However, I thought the articles were very interesting how their rhetoric exposed whether or not Islam was compatible with democracy.

Primarily, I do not agree with Taheri’s argument that Islam and democracy are an “impossible union”. Furthermore, I do not believe that Islamic people do not believe in equality, a major tenant of democracy. Furthermore, hierarchies as Taheri claims provide major hindrances to the democratic process. However, I do agree with the aspect that “Muslims can build successful societies provided they treat Islam as a matter of personal, private belief and not as a political ideology that seeks to monopolize the public space shared by the whole of humanity and dictate every aspect of individual and community life”(Taheri). Therefore, if Islamic countries want to democratize, they should regard their beliefs as personal and ones that should be separate from the public sphere.

Although there are some challenges to democratization by Islamic political actors, I thought that Yusuf AL-Qaradawi brought up some very good points about Islam and democracy. One point that rejected Taheri’s disbelief in equality was that “Islam rejects the idea that people be led in prayer by someone they do not accept”(AL-Qaradawi). Therefore, Muslims do not believe in despotism and strong governmental actors that control all of the resources. Furthermore, they believe that their rulers are the ones that will represent them in all aspects and fight for their beliefs and creeds. Therefore, this representative is though to be an employee of the community and seeks to represent his constituents as much as possible.

Therefore, these articles were interesting on how Islam related with democracy. Although a majority of religions don’t seem to be completely compatible with democracy, the Muslim world does not have a necessarily monolithic fundamentalist vision. In the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, the scientist projected that “Islamic extremism continues to be a serious concern in nations with substantial Muslim populations”. Furthermore, if moderates can battle extremism and fundamentalism, Islam and democracy will be able to coexist.