18 January 2010

Books: New Challenges to Democratization

The Madrid-based "European think tank for global action" Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE) has been studying the suggested recent "backlash" against democracy. Based on this research, two publications have appeared last year.

First, "New Challenges to Democratization", eds. Peter Burnell and Richard Youngs (Routledge, November 2009):


From the publisher's description: "This important text explores the widespread contention that new challenges and obstacles have arisen to democratization, assessing the claim that support for democratization around the world is facing a serious challenge.

"Bringing together leading international scholars of democratization [...], this book examines the issues relating to developments within non-democratic states and issues related to the democratic world and its efforts to support the spread of democracy. Featuring in-depth studies on the limits of US democracy promotion, the Middle East, Russia, China and new democracies, the book sheds light on such questions as: Is the wave of democratization now in retreat or should we be careful not to exaggerate the importance of recent setbacks? Do serious, sustainable alternatives to democracy now exist? Is international democracy promotion finished?"

Contents: 1. New Challenges to Democratization (Peter Burnell, Warwick); 2. State Sovereignty and Democracy: An Awkward Coupling (Laurence Whitehead, Oxford); 3. Ideological Challenges to Democracy: Do they Exist? (Marina Ottaway, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace); 4. The Continuing Backlash against Democracy Promotion (Thomas Carothers, Carnegie Endowment/Johns Hopkins); 5. Democracy Assistance and the Search for Security (Nancy Bermeo, Oxford/Princeton); 6. Public Support versus Dissatisfaction in New Democracies: An Inside Challenge? (Renske Doorenspleet, Warwick); 7. External Sources and Consequences of Russia's 'Sovereign Democracy' (Michael McFaul, Stanford/Hoover Institution, and Regine A. Spector, University of Massachusetts, Amherst); 8. Democratizing One-Party Rule in China (Shaun Breslin, Warwick); 9. Democratization by Whom? Resistance to Democracy Promotion in the Middle East (Bassma Kodmani, Arab Reform Initiative); 10. Energy: A Reinforced Obstacle to Democratization? (Richard Youngs, FRIDE);
11. Addressing Democracy's Challenges (Peter Burnell and Richard Youngs)

The full version of a second publication, "Democracy's Plight in the European Neighbourhood: Struggling Transitions and Proliferating Dynasties", eds. Michael Emerson and Richard Youngs (Centre for European Policy Studies [CEPS], Brussels, and FRIDE, October 2009), can be downloaded free of charge at this link:


Description: "In recent years many analysts have focused their attention on an apparent 'backlash' against democracy and democracy promotion. FRIDE and CEPS have previously cooperated on exploring the general nature of this 'backlash'. In this volume we turn to a more specific European neighbourhood focus, and explore the general issues relating to democracy's travails in more detail in the countries to the south and east of the European Union. The underlying question is whether, in an era of democratic pessimism, the European neighbourhood can offer any more optimistic conclusions.

"In this context we asked a group of experts [...] to write short essays covering fifteen different case studies from across the neighbourhood region. They assess a common range of questions: Is democratisation now in retreat, or just stagnating? Do we risk exaggerating the importance of recent setbacks? What is happening to the normative appeal of democracy? How does the financial crisis impact on political trends? How have external democracy promotion efforts evolved and been received? Is international democracy promotion running out of steam? What has been the impact of the slowing of the EU's enlargement process, alongside the limited scope of its neighbourhood policy?

"The book addresses these specific questions in three groups of states. First, those countries in or close to the European Union: Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Turkey. Second, states of the former Soviet Union: Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Third, three Arab states of the southern Mediterranean: Morocco, Algeria and Egypt."

Excerpt: "There is virtually no well-functioning democracy in the neighbourhood of the European Union, which now finds itself surrounded by states that fall broadly into either one of two categories. In one category there are the states that have seen the post-communist political transition processes go astray and take on various guises of distorted, perverted, or dysfunctional democracy. This group includes the newest member states of the EU. On the other hand there is a set of authoritarian regimes in which the concentration of power has become increasingly consolidated".

Peter Burnell is Professor of Politics at the University of Warwick.

Michael Emerson is an Associate Senior Research Fellow and Program Director for Wider Europe with CEPS.

Richard Youngs is Director General of FRIDE. He also lectures at the University of Warwick.

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