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走向民主之路的七個要點(2之1) - I. Coleman/T. Lawson-Remer
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A User's Guide to Democratic Transitions

 

A how-to guide for reformers around the world.

 

ISOBEL COLEMAN, TERRA LAWSON-REMER, 06/18/13

 

Let's face it: Democracy is struggling. Sure, it surged after the fall of the Berlin Wall, reaching a high-water mark in the first years of the 21st century with various inspirational "colored" revolutions. But then democratic gains in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America stalled, or even deteriorated, as fragile democracies struggled under the enormous challenge of governance. The expensive U.S. failures to impose democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan haven't helped. Today, many countries that once seemed budding with democratic promise now appear mired in political infighting, beset by power grabs by ousted elites, or trapped in downward spirals of poverty and unemployment. And the seemingly inexorable rise of autocratic China, in sharp contrast with gridlocked western democracies, has some wondering whether democracy is even worth pursuing.

 

While many people have enjoyed rising wealth and stability under autocracy (most of them in China), we remain convinced that democracy is the least bad form of government out there, to paraphrase Churchill. And thankfully, there's some statistical evidence to back up our belief that democracy is still the best way to realize both freedom and prosperity. Although economists for more than 50 years have debated whether democracy or autocracy is better for growth, more recent studies tip toward democracy.

 

The hard truth, however, is that the transition from authoritarianism to democracy is notoriously difficult. History suggests that transitioning countries' move toward genuine substantive democracy characterized by resilient majority rule, free and fair elections, and strong minority and civil rights protections will be slow. The bad news is that for countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Myanmar it's likely to be a long and bumpy ride.

 

In our new book Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions, we compared eight countries' experiences with democratization: Poland, Ukraine, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa. Though the contexts are obviously quite different, certain lessons can be drawn. Below, we highlight our seven most important take-aways. Our hope is that leaders facing the challenges of transitions today can draw upon the lessons of others to identify those policies most likely to promote robust, inclusive economic growth and to foster the gift of genuine and enduring democracy.

 

1.     Don't miss the opportunity presented by a good economic crisis. (經濟危機可能帶來轉機)

 

Many experts once believed that economic growth led inevitably to democracy. Although most rich countries in the world today are relatively democratic, some -- such as China and Saudi Arabia -- have enjoyed growing economic prosperity without a commensurate increase in political freedoms. Indeed, studies show that it's not economic growth but rather economic crisis that triggers regime change. Over the past three decades, many democratic transitions have been precipitated by serious economic shocks that ruptured the authoritarian bargain.

 

Indonesia is the poster child for getting the most out of an economic crisis. Its remarkable transition to democracy was precipitated by the onset of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 that ushered in deep political and economic reforms. In Brazil, a structural economic crisis in the 1980s paved the way for its transition from military government to democracy. Mexico experienced a similar trajectory as the 1982 debt crisis set off political and economic change. In the Middle East uprisings of recent years, the economic shocks of rising food prices and youth unemployment played a strong role -- although whether the transitioning Arab countries will be able to consolidate democracy and usher in much needed economic reforms remains to be seen.

 

Tempting as it may be to engineer an economic shock in your least favorite autocracy, economic crises can also unfortunately make the most odious governments hunker down even more. (Think of the sanctions on Iran or North Korea.) And hold on to your hats if the price of oil sharply declines. Resulting economic crises in places like Saudi Arabia and Russia are likely to spur transitions -- and all the turbulence that goes along with that.  

 

The bottom line here is the need to recognize how economic crisis can upend the status quo and open the door for fundamental change. In anticipation of that moment, policymakers should pursue strategies to nurture a middle class. Once upheaval hits and democracy begins to take root, a resilient middle class can be the necessary safeguard against backsliding to autocracy.

 

2.     On elections, "Fake it till you make it." (推動選舉 不論真假)

 

A clear lesson from our case studies is that elections -- even sham elections -- lead to greater success in the transition to substantive democracy. International observers often denounce flawed elections as meaningless attempts to dress authoritarian rule in the trappings of democracy, but elections can also sow the seeds of public expectations that over time blossom into democratic demands that cannot be ignored.

 

Mexico offers a great example of the unintended consequences of controlled elections. In the 1970s, the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party took its quest for electoral legitimacy so far that when the loyal opposition failed to field a presidential candidate in 1976, the government revised the election laws to make it easier for the opposition to gain a few seats. To the party's surprise, when the economic crisis of the early 1980s hit, the opposition was able to use this opening to marshal civil society organizations in a campaign for more transparent elections.

 

In Brazil, the military regime likewise tolerated an opposition it believed it could control. But as economic crisis led to widespread discontent in the early 1980s, the military began to lose its grip on the political situation. Having won their place in the political arena, the opposition was now poised to win a surprisingly large victory in the 1982 elections for Congress and state governors. The earlier "rigged" election had set the stage for the military's downfall in the presidential election of 1986.

 

Other quantitative evidence confirms that authoritarian regimes with partial political openness are the likeliest to become more democratic, especially if they provide for multiparty electoral competition. So go ahead, support the vote, even if it's not perfect.

 

3.     Be wary of armed rebellions, but back nonviolent, mass mobilizations. (支持非暴力示威與動員)

 

Armed rebellions often fail to lead to democratization, even when regimes are overthrown. History is littered with failed uprisings, coups d'états and violent revolutions that succeeded in nothing more than replacing one form of dictatorship with another. Nonviolent, mass mobilizations, on the other hand, have a stronger track record of laying the groundwork for democratic change. Proponents of nonviolence, from Mohandas Gandhi to Martin Luther King, have long noted that sustained peaceful protests lead to a more engaged citizenry and a better-organized civil society -- critical for staying the course during the inevitable challenges of democratic transitions.

Consider these examples:

 

·        Poland's experience with its trade union federation Solidarity -- a social-political movement that at its peak included a quarter of the population as members -- illustrates how a peaceful grassroots movement can be instrumental in a democratic transition.

·        South Africa's broad-based grassroots liberation movements, though not always peaceful, opposed apartheid over decades and bequeathed a legacy of strong civil society engagement.

·        Indonesia's transition also benefited from a broadly engaged citizenry. Widespread street protests in 1997 and 1998 and high voter turnout in 1999 made ordinary Indonesians owners of their democratization process and more willing to withstand the prolonged uncertainty of the times.

·        In contrast, although Ukraine appeared to experience a peaceful mobilization during the Orange Revolution in 2004 when hundreds of thousands of protestors filled the streets of Kiev, the crowd was a passive force lacking the depth and vibrancy of a genuine grassroots movement.

·        Similarly, Nigeria's largely unsuccessful transition has never been grounded in a broad-based popular movement.

 

Some countries, like Namibia and El Salvador, have overcome violent beginnings to evolve along a path of democracy. And some dictatorships are so totalitarian that their end can come only through violence: Muammar al-Qaddafi, for example, was determined to fight his people to the bitter end. Libya's transition is not doomed by its violent birth, although the militias that helped overthrow Qaddafi -- and the climate of lawlessness that resulted -- now pose significant obstacles to stability.

 

The takeaway for policymakers is not to write off countries born of violence, but to proceed with caution in abetting armed revolutions, and to resist the great temptation of favoring deals between elite groups over the messier, slower, but more reliable support of home-grown mass mobilizations. What form might this support take? The international community should nurture civil society-building through civic exchanges and support for local civil society organizations. Support for independent media is also a crucial aid to nascent democracy. These are generally low-cost, high-return investments.

 

(待續)



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重新規劃民主政治理論與運作 - D. Rodrik
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Rethinking Democracy

 

Dani Rodrik, 06/11/14

 

PRINCETON – By many measures, the world has never been more democratic. Virtually every government at least pays lip service to democracy and human rights. Though elections may not be free and fair, massive electoral manipulation is rare and the days when only males, whites, or the rich could vote are long gone. Freedom House’s global surveys show a steady increase from the 1970s in the share of countries that are “free” – a trend that the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington dubbed the “third wave” of democratization.

 

The dissemination of democratic norms from the advanced countries of the West to the rest of the world has been perhaps the most significant benefit of globalization. Yet not all is well with democracy. Today’s democratic governments perform poorly, and their future remains very much in doubt.

 

In the advanced countries, dissatisfaction with government stems from its inability to deliver effective economic policies for growth and inclusion. In the newer democracies of the developing world, failure to safeguard civil liberties and political freedom is an additional source of discontent.

 

A true democracy, one that combines majority rule with respect for minority rights, requires two sets of institutions.

 

First, institutions of representation, such as political parties, parliaments, and electoral systems, are needed to elicit popular preferences and turn them into policy action.

Second, democracy requires institutions of restraint, such as an independent judiciary and media, to uphold fundamental rights like freedom of speech and prevent governments from abusing their power. Representation without restraint – elections without the rule of law – is a recipe for the tyranny of the majority.

 

Democracy in this sense – what many call “liberal democracy” – flourished only after the emergence of the nation-state and the popular upheaval and mobilization produced by the Industrial Revolution. So it should come as no surprise that the crisis of liberal democracy that many of its oldest practitioners currently are experiencing is a reflection of the stress under which the nation-state finds itself.

 

The attack on the nation-state comes from above and below. Economic globalization has blunted the instruments of national economic policy and weakened the traditional mechanisms of transfers and redistribution that strengthened social inclusion. Moreover, policymakers often hide behind (real or imagined) competitive pressures emanating from the global economy to justify their lack of responsiveness to popular demands, and cite the same pressures when implementing unpopular policies such as fiscal austerity.

 

One consequence has been the rise of extremist groups in Europe. At the same time, regional separatist movements such as those in Catalonia and Scotland challenge the legitimacy of nation-states as they are currently configured and seek their breakup. Whether they do too much or too little, many national governments face a crisis of representation.

 

In developing countries, it is more often the institutions of restraint that are failing. Governments that come to power through the ballot box often become corrupt and power-hungry. They replicate the practices of the elitist regimes they replaced, clamping down on the press and civil liberties and emasculating (or capturing) the judiciary. The result has been called “illiberal democracy” or “competitive authoritarianism.” Venezuela, Turkey, Egypt, and Thailand are some of the better-known recent examples.

 

When democracy fails to deliver economically or politically, perhaps it is to be expected that some people will look for authoritarian solutions. And, for many economists, delegating economic policy to technocratic bodies in order to insulate them from the “folly of the masses” almost always is the preferred approach.

 

With its independent central bank and fiscal rules, the European Union has already traveled far along this road. In India, businessmen look wistfully at China and wish their leaders could act just as boldly and decisively – that is, more autocratically – to address the country’s reform challenges. In countries like Egypt and Thailand, military intervention is viewed as a temporary necessity in order to put an end to the irresponsibility of elected leaders.

 

These autocratic responses are ultimately self-defeating, because they deepen the democratic malaise. In Europe, economic policy needs more democratic legitimacy, not less. This can be achieved either by significantly strengthening democratic deliberation and accountability at the EU level, or by increasing the autonomy of the member states to set economic policy.

 

In other words, Europe faces a choice between more political union and less economic union. As long as it delays making the choice, democracy will suffer.

 

In developing countries, military intervention in national politics undermines long-term prospects for democracy, because it impedes the development of the necessary “culture,” including habits of moderation and compromise among competing civilian groups. As long as the military remains the ultimate political arbiter, these groups focus their strategies on the military rather than one another.

 

Effective institutions of restraint do not emerge overnight; and it might seem like those in power would never want to create them. But if there is some likelihood that I will be voted out of office and that the opposition will take over, such institutions will protect me from others’ abuses tomorrow as much as they protect others from my abuses today. So strong prospects for sustained political competition are a key prerequisite for illiberal democracies to turn into liberal ones over time.

 

Optimists believe that new technologies and modes of governance will resolve all problems and send democracies centered on the nation-state the way of the horse-drawn carriage. Pessimists fear that today’s liberal democracies will be no match for the external challenges mounted by illiberal states like China and Russia, which are guided only by hardnosed realpolitik. Either way, if democracy is to have a future, it will need to be rethought.

 

Dani Rodrik is Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey. He is the author of One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions, and Economic Growth and, most recently, The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World.

 

Read more at

 

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/dani-rodrik-examines-the-root-causes-of-political-malaise-in-advanced-and-developing-countries#ugpE7ZwusqScfzi3.99

 

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/dani-rodrik-examines-the-root-causes-of-political-malaise-in-advanced-and-developing-countries



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度量一個社會的民主政治程度 – A. McCulloch
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How to measure democracy                  

 

Andrew McCulloch, Significance, 05/14

 

The European elections on Thursday might not arouse much excitement among the general public but the right to vote in a meaningful election is one of the key characteristics of a democracy. If we were to make a list we might also consider a free press, the rule of law, judicial independence, religious freedom, gender equality and electoral turnout to be characteristics of a democracy.

 

In the social sciences there have been two general approaches to developing quantitative measures of democracy. In the first approach, measurements of a wide range of features considered characteristic of democracy are used to construct a quantitative measure of democracy. In the second approach, measurement focuses on a more limited concept of democracy, typically the characteristics of the electoral processes in a country, which researchers judge they can measure with a high degree of reliability. The problem with the second approach is, however, that while a narrower definition of the idea of democracy might make measurement more reliable it might not necessarily be more valid, in the sense of capturing what democracy really means to people.

 

We can illustrate the different approaches to measurement of democracy using the Democracy Index produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The EIU index has five dimensions which measure the nature of electoral processes (e.g. free elections), functioning of government (e.g. checks and balances on government authority), political participation (e.g. voter turnout), democratic political culture (e.g. popular support for democracy) and civil liberties (e.g. a free press, independent judiciary) in a country.

 

Each dimension is measured using a series of indicators which are then summed and scaled to create a composite scale varying from 0 to 10. In addition, a total scale is constructed from the average of the five dimensions which is used to group countries into full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes (having both democratic and authoritarian characteristics) and authoritarian regimes. According to the EIU index the most democratic countries include Norway and Sweden while North Korea is the least democratic country in the world.

 

Although the EIU index is a broad measure of democracy including numerous indicators of the quality of democracy, such as electoral turnout, we can also use the data to illustrate the utility to measurement of using a more limited concept of democracy. The highest correlation between the separate dimensions of the EIU Index is found between the dimensions measuring the electoral processes and extent of civil liberties in a country. The figure below plots the relationship between the two dimensions using data from 2012.

 

The figure (公民社會自由度為縱座標) illustrates the high positive correlation between the two indices; countries which have high levels of democratic electoral processes always have high levels of civil liberties and countries with low levels of democratic electoral processes always have low levels of civil liberties. The only country to have significant civil liberties without also having democratic electoral processes is Hong Kong, reflecting the history of the territory.

 

Does this mean that we can exclude the other dimensions of democracy in the index from a discussion of democracy and instead measure democracy using only the electoral processes and extent of civil liberties in a country? For some purposes I think the answer is probably yes. If there is no electoral representation in a country, the political culture, political participation or functioning of government are not likely to be democratic. A limited approach to measuring democracy therefore seems adequate for making broad statements about the variation in the nature of government across countries.

 

In countries such as the UK, however, we know very well that aspects of our political culture such as the extent of trust in politicians do clearly capture something important about people's attitude to democracy. It seems surprising therefore that the lowest correlation between the separate dimensions of the EIU Index is found between the dimensions measuring the political culture and electoral processes in a country.

 

The figure above (以政治文化狀況為縱座標) shows, however, that although there is little relationship between electoral processes and political culture in authoritarian and hybrid regimes, the democracy of electoral processes is associated with political culture in full democracies. The more nuanced approach to measuring democracy may therefore be useful in distinguish differences in the nature of democracy within countries that are full democracies. The political culture and functioning of government may be important in explaining why Norway and Sweden, rather than the US or the UK, top the list of democratic countries. But this is of limited use in explaining differences in democracy outside those countries.

 

http://www.significancemagazine.org/details/webexclusive/6183641/How-to-measure-democracy.html

 

-- 請至原網頁參考EIU民主指數量度圖(第一個以公民社會自由度為縱座標,第二個以政治文化狀況為縱座標) – 卜凱



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關於「民主政治」
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我曾經說過很多次,我是一個務實主義者、實用主義者、和/或現實主義者。從而,對我來說,沒有任何理想、理念、原則、或(抽象)價值具有「神主牌」的地位。一個理想、理念、原則、或(抽象)價值是否有意義或是否值得「一戰」,(對我來說)完全由它所帶來的(長期與整體)利益來決定。另一方面,任何一個社會都具有多元性質,以及在任何社會中,資源無法以滿足所有成員需求的方式來分配;這兩個因素造成一個社會中不同集團間經常有種種利害衝突。從而,世界上大概沒有一個或一組「普遍並永久」的「價值」。

 

我不認為在現實情況下,一個社會是否實行「民主政治」居於評價此社會的第一順位。從我的立場和價值觀來說,大多數老百姓是否有一個小康溫飽的生活才是最重要的事。其次,一個社會是否有足夠的實力來保護社會成員的安全是第二個重要的事。我之所以肯定和支持「民主政治」,在於就我所知,一般和長遠來看,「民主政治」是達到這兩個目標一個比較有效的政治制度。換句話說,如果就局部和短期來考察,「民主政治」並不一定是最適合某一個社會的政治制度。

 

The Economist這篇論文對「民主政治」利、弊的分析可說相當中肯;它也提出了一些改進它的方案和想法。歡迎對於「民主政治」有興趣的網友參與討論。



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當代民主政治的現況與未來 - The Economist
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What’s gone wrong with democracy      

 

Democracy was the most successful political idea of the 20th century. Why has it run into trouble, and what can be done to revive it?

 

The Economist Essay, 02/14

 

What’s gone wrong with democracy

 

THE protesters who have overturned the politics of Ukraine have many aspirations for their country. Their placards called for closer relations with the European Union (EU), an end to Russian intervention in Ukraine’s politics and the establishment of a clean government to replace the kleptocracy of President Viktor Yanukovych. But their fundamental demand is one that has motivated people over many decades to take a stand against corrupt, abusive and autocratic governments. They want a rules-based democracy.

 

It is easy to understand why. Democracies are on average richer than non-democracies, are less likely to go to war and have a better record of fighting corruption. More fundamentally, democracy lets people speak their minds and shape their own and their children’s futures. That so many people in so many different parts of the world are prepared to risk so much for this idea is testimony to its enduring appeal.

 

Yet these days the exhilaration generated by events like those in Kiev is mixed with anxiety, for a troubling pattern has repeated itself in capital after capital. The people mass in the main square. Regime-sanctioned thugs try to fight back but lose their nerve in the face of popular intransigence and global news coverage. The world applauds the collapse of the regime and offers to help build a democracy. But turfing out an autocrat turns out to be much easier than setting up a viable democratic government. The new regime stumbles, the economy flounders and the country finds itself in a state at least as bad as it was before. This is what happened in much of the Arab spring, and also in Ukraine’s Orange revolution a decade ago. In 2004 Mr Yanukovych was ousted from office by vast street protests, only to be re-elected to the presidency (with the help of huge amounts of Russian money) in 2010, after the opposition politicians who replaced him turned out to be just as hopeless.

 

Between 1980 and 2000 democracy experienced a few setbacks, but since 2000 there have been many Democracy is going through a difficult time. Where autocrats have been driven out of office, their opponents have mostly failed to create viable democratic regimes. Even in established democracies, flaws in the system have become worryingly visible and disillusion with politics is rife. Yet just a few years ago democracy looked as though it would dominate the world.

 

In the second half of the 20th century, democracies had taken root in the most difficult circumstances possible -- in Germany, which had been traumatised by Nazism, in India, which had the world’s largest population of poor people, and, in the 1990s, in South Africa, which had been disfigured by apartheid. Decolonialisation created a host of new democracies in Africa and Asia, and autocratic regimes gave way to democracy in Greece (1974), Spain (1975), Argentina (1983), Brazil (1985) and Chile (1989). The collapse of the Soviet Union created many fledgling democracies in central Europe. By 2000 Freedom House, an American think-tank, classified 120 countries, or 63% of the world total, as democracies.

 

Representatives of more than 100 countries gathered at the World Forum on Democracy in Warsaw that year to proclaim that “the will of the people” was “the basis of the authority of government”. A report issued by America’s State Department declared that having seen off “failed experiments” with authoritarian and totalitarian forms of government, “it seems that now, at long last, democracy is triumphant.”

 

Such hubris was surely understandable after such a run of successes. But stand farther back and the triumph of democracy looks rather less inevitable. After the fall of Athens, where it was first developed, the political model had lain dormant until the Enlightenment more than 2,000 years later. In the 18th century only the American revolution produced a sustainable democracy. During the 19th century monarchists fought a prolonged rearguard action against democratic forces. In the first half of the 20th century nascent democracies collapsed in Germany, Spain and Italy. By 1941 there were only 11 democracies left, and Franklin Roosevelt worried that it might not be possible to shield “the great flame of democracy from the blackout of barbarism”.

 

The progress seen in the late 20th century has stalled in the 21st. Even though around 40% of the world’s population, more people than ever before, live in countries that will hold free and fair elections this year, democracy’s global advance has come to a halt, and may even have gone into reverse. Freedom House reckons that 2013 was the eighth consecutive year in which global freedom declined, and that its forward march peaked around the beginning of the century. Between 1980 and 2000 the cause of democracy experienced only a few setbacks, but since 2000 there have been many. And democracy’s problems run deeper than mere numbers suggest. Many nominal democracies have slid towards autocracy, maintaining the outward appearance of democracy through elections, but without the rights and institutions that are equally important aspects of a functioning democratic system.

 

Faith in democracy flares up in moments of triumph, such as the overthrow of unpopular regimes in Cairo or Kiev, only to sputter out once again. Outside the West, democracy often advances only to collapse. And within the West, democracy has too often become associated with debt and dysfunction at home and overreach abroad. Democracy has always had its critics, but now old doubts are being treated with renewed respect as the weaknesses of democracy in its Western strongholds, and the fragility of its influence elsewhere, have become increasingly apparent. Why has democracy lost its forward momentum?

 

The return of history

 

THE two main reasons are the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the rise of China. The damage the crisis did was psychological as well as financial. It revealed fundamental weaknesses in the West’s political systems, undermining the self-confidence that had been one of their great assets. Governments had steadily extended entitlements over decades, allowing dangerous levels of debt to develop, and politicians came to believe that they had abolished boom-bust cycles and tamed risk. Many people became disillusioned with the workings of their political systems -- particularly when governments bailed out bankers with taxpayers’ money and then stood by impotently as financiers continued to pay themselves huge bonuses. The crisis turned the Washington consensus into a term of reproach across the emerging world.

 

Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party has broken the democratic world’s monopoly on economic progress. Larry Summers, of Harvard University, observes that when America was growing fastest, it doubled living standards roughly every 30 years. China has been doubling living standards roughly every decade for the past 30 years. The Chinese elite argue that their model -- tight control by the Communist Party, coupled with a relentless effort to recruit talented people into its upper ranks -- is more efficient than democracy and less susceptible to gridlock. The political leadership changes every decade or so, and there is a constant supply of fresh talent as party cadres are promoted based on their ability to hit targets.

 

China’s critics rightly condemn the government for controlling public opinion in all sorts of ways, from imprisoning dissidents to censoring internet discussions. Yet the regime’s obsession with control paradoxically means it pays close attention to public opinion. At the same time China’s leaders have been able to tackle some of the big problems of state-building that can take decades to deal with in a democracy. In just two years China has extended pension coverage to an extra 240m rural dwellers, for example -- far more than the total number of people covered by America’s public-pension system.

 

Many Chinese are prepared to put up with their system if it delivers growth. The 2013 Pew Survey of Global Attitudes showed that 85% of Chinese were “very satisfied” with their country’s direction, compared with 31% of Americans. Some Chinese intellectuals have become positively boastful. Zhang Weiwei of Fudan University argues that democracy is destroying the West, and particularly America, because it institutionalises gridlock, trivialises decision-making and throws up second-rate presidents like George Bush junior. Yu Keping of Beijing University argues that democracy makes simple things “overly complicated and frivolous” and allows “certain sweet-talking politicians to mislead the people”. Wang Jisi, also of Beijing University, has observed that “many developing countries that have introduced Western values and political systems are experiencing disorder and chaos” and that China offers an alternative model. Countries from Africa (Rwanda) to the Middle East (Dubai) to South-East Asia (Vietnam) are taking this advice seriously.

 

China’s advance is all the more potent in the context of a series of disappointments for democrats since 2000. The first great setback was in Russia. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the democratisation of the old Soviet Union seemed inevitable. In the 1990s Russia took a few drunken steps in that direction under Boris Yeltsin. But at the end of 1999 he resigned and handed power to Vladimir Putin, a former KGB operative who has since been both prime minister and president twice. This postmodern tsar has destroyed the substance of democracy in Russia, muzzling the press and imprisoning his opponents, while preserving the show -- everyone can vote, so long as Mr. Putin wins. Autocratic leaders in Venezuela, Ukraine, Argentina and elsewhere have followed suit, perpetuating a perverted simulacrum of democracy rather than doing away with it altogether, and thus discrediting it further.

 

The next big setback was the Iraq war. When Saddam Hussein’s fabled weapons of mass destruction failed to materialise after the American-led invasion of 2003, Mr Bush switched instead to justifying the war as a fight for freedom and democracy. “The concerted effort of free nations to promote democracy is a prelude to our enemies’ defeat,” he argued in his second inaugural address. This was more than mere opportunism: Mr Bush sincerely believed that the Middle East would remain a breeding ground for terrorism so long as it was dominated by dictators. But it did the democratic cause great harm. Left-wingers regarded it as proof that democracy was just a figleaf for American imperialism. Foreign-policy realists took Iraq’s growing chaos as proof that American-led promotion of democratisation was a recipe for instability. And disillusioned neoconservatives such as Francis Fukuyama, an American political scientist, saw it as proof that democracy cannot put down roots in stony ground.

 

A third serious setback was Egypt. The collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in 2011, amid giant protests, raised hopes that democracy would spread in the Middle East. But the euphoria soon turned to despair. Egypt’s ensuing elections were won not by liberal activists (who were hopelessly divided into a myriad of Pythonesque parties) but by Muhammad Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Mr Morsi treated democracy as a winner-takes-all system, packing the state with Brothers, granting himself almost unlimited powers and creating an upper house with a permanent Islamic majority. In July 2013 the army stepped in, arresting Egypt’s first democratically elected president, imprisoning leading members of the Brotherhood and killing hundreds of demonstrators. Along with war in Syria and anarchy in Libya, this has dashed the hope that the Arab spring would lead to a flowering of democracy across the Middle East.

 

Meanwhile some recent recruits to the democratic camp have lost their lustre. Since the introduction of democracy in 1994 South Africa has been ruled by the same party, the African National Congress, which has become progressively more self-serving. Turkey, which once seemed to combine moderate Islam with prosperity and democracy, is descending into corruption and autocracy. In Bangladesh, Thailand and Cambodia, opposition parties have boycotted recent elections or refused to accept their results.

 

All this has demonstrated that building the institutions needed to sustain democracy is very slow work indeed, and has dispelled the once-popular notion that democracy will blossom rapidly and spontaneously once the seed is planted. Although democracy may be a “universal aspiration”, as Mr. Bush and Tony Blair insisted, it is a culturally rooted practice. Western countries almost all extended the right to vote long after the establishment of sophisticated political systems, with powerful civil services and entrenched constitutional rights, in societies that cherished the notions of individual rights and independent judiciaries.

 

Yet in recent years the very institutions that are meant to provide models for new democracies have come to seem outdated and dysfunctional in established ones. The United States has become a byword for gridlock, so obsessed with partisan point-scoring that it has come to the verge of defaulting on its debts twice in the past two years. Its democracy is also corrupted by gerrymandering, the practice of drawing constituency boundaries to entrench the power of incumbents. This encourages extremism, because politicians have to appeal only to the party faithful, and in effect disenfranchises large numbers of voters. And money talks louder than ever in American politics. Thousands of lobbyists (more than 20 for every member of Congress) add to the length and complexity of legislation, the better to smuggle in special privileges. All this creates the impression that American democracy is for sale and that the rich have more power than the poor, even as lobbyists and donors insist that political expenditure is an exercise in free speech. The result is that America’s image -- and by extension that of democracy itself -- has taken a terrible battering.

 

Nor is the EU a paragon of democracy. The decision to introduce the euro in 1999 was taken largely by technocrats; only two countries, Denmark and Sweden, held referendums on the matter (both said no). Efforts to win popular approval for the Lisbon Treaty, which consolidated power in Brussels, were abandoned when people started voting the wrong way. During the darkest days of the euro crisis the euro-elite forced Italy and Greece to replace democratically elected leaders with technocrats. The European Parliament, an unsuccessful attempt to fix Europe’s democratic deficit, is both ignored and despised. The EU has become a breeding ground for populist parties, such as Geert Wilders’s Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, which claim to defend ordinary people against an arrogant and incompetent elite. Greece’s Golden Dawn is testing how far democracies can tolerate Nazi-style parties. A project designed to tame the beast of European populism is instead poking it back into life.

 

The democratic distemper

 

EVEN in its heartland, democracy is clearly suffering from serious structural problems, rather than a few isolated ailments. Since the dawn of the modern democratic era in the late 19th century, democracy has expressed itself through nation-states and national parliaments. People elect representatives who pull the levers of national power for a fixed period. But this arrangement is now under assault from both above and below.

 

From above, globalisation has changed national politics profoundly. National politicians have surrendered ever more power, for example over trade and financial flows, to global markets and supranational bodies, and may thus find that they are unable to keep promises they have made to voters. International organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and the European Union have extended their influence. There is a compelling logic to much of this:

 

how can a single country deal with problems like climate change or tax evasion?

 

National politicians have also responded to globalisation by limiting their discretion and handing power to unelected technocrats in some areas. The number of countries with independent central banks, for example, has increased from about 20 in 1980 to more than 160 today.

 

From below come equally powerful challenges: from would-be breakaway nations, such as the Catalans and the Scots, from Indian states, from American city mayors. All are trying to reclaim power from national governments. There are also a host of what Moisés Naim, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, calls “micro-powers”, such as NGOs and lobbyists, which are disrupting traditional politics and making life harder for democratic and autocratic leaders alike. The internet makes it easier to organise and agitate; in a world where people can participate in reality-TV votes every week, or support a petition with the click of a mouse, the machinery and institutions of parliamentary democracy, where elections happen only every few years, look increasingly anachronistic. Douglas Carswell, a British member of parliament, likens traditional politics to HMV, a chain of British record shops that went bust, in a world where people are used to calling up whatever music they want whenever they want via Spotify, a popular digital music-streaming service.

 

The biggest challenge to democracy, however, comes neither from above nor below but from within -- from the voters themselves. Plato’s great worry about democracy, that citizens would “live from day to day, indulging the pleasure of the moment”, has proved prescient. Democratic governments got into the habit of running big structural deficits as a matter of course, borrowing to give voters what they wanted in the short term, while neglecting long-term investment. France and Italy have not balanced their budgets for more than 30 years. The financial crisis has starkly exposed the unsustainability of debt-financed democracy.

 

With the post-crisis stimulus winding down, politicians must now confront the difficult trade-offs they avoided during years of steady growth and easy credit. But persuading voters to adapt to a new age of austerity will not prove popular at the ballot box. Slow growth and tight budgets will provoke conflict as interest groups compete for limited resources. To make matters worse, this competition is taking place as Western populations are ageing. Older people have always been better at getting their voices heard than younger ones, voting in greater numbers and organising pressure groups like America’s mighty AARP. They will increasingly have absolute numbers on their side. Many democracies now face a fight between past and future, between inherited entitlements and future investment.

 

Adjusting to hard times will be made even more difficult by a growing cynicism towards politics. Party membership is declining across the developed world: only 1% of Britons are now members of political parties compared with 20% in 1950. Voter turnout is falling, too: a study of 49 democracies found that it had declined by 10 percentage points between 1980-84 and 2007-13. A survey of seven European countries in 2012 found that more than half of votershad no trust in government” whatsoever. A YouGov opinion poll of British voters in the same year found that 62% of those polled agreed that “politicians tell lies all the time”.

 

Meanwhile the border between poking fun and launching protest campaigns is fast eroding. In 2010 Iceland’s Best Party, promising to be openly corrupt, won enough votes to co-run Reykjavik’s city council. And in 2013 a quarter of Italians voted for a party founded by Beppe Grillo, a comedian. All this popular cynicism about politics might be healthy if people demanded little from their governments, but they continue to want a great deal. The result can be a toxic and unstable mixture: dependency on government on the one hand, and disdain for it on the other. The dependency forces government to overexpand and overburden itself, while the disdain robs it of its legitimacy. Democratic dysfunction goes hand in hand with democratic distemper.

 

Democracy’s problems in its heartland help explain its setbacks elsewhere. Democracy did well in the 20th century in part because of American hegemony: other countries naturally wanted to emulate the world’s leading power. But as China’s influence has grown, America and Europe have lost their appeal as role models and their appetite for spreading democracy. The Obama administration now seems paralysed by the fear that democracy will produce rogue regimes or empower jihadists. And why should developing countries regard democracy as the ideal form of government when the American government cannot even pass a budget, let alone plan for the future? Why should autocrats listen to lectures on democracy from Europe, when the euro-elite sacks elected leaders who get in the way of fiscal orthodoxy?

 

At the same time, democracies in the emerging world have encountered the same problems as those in the rich world. They too have overindulged in short-term spending rather than long-term investment. Brazil allows public-sector workers to retire at 53 but has done little to create a modern airport system. India pays off vast numbers of client groups but invests too little in infrastructure. Political systems have been captured by interest groups and undermined by anti-democratic habits. Patrick French, a British historian, notes that every member of India’s lower house under the age of 30 is a member of a political dynasty. Even within the capitalist elite, support for democracy is fraying: Indian business moguls constantly complain that India’s chaotic democracy produces rotten infrastructure while China’s authoritarian system produces highways, gleaming airports and high-speed trains.

 

Democracy has been on the back foot before. In the 1920s and 1930s communism and fascism looked like the coming things: when Spain temporarily restored its parliamentary government in 1931, Benito Mussolini likened it to returning to oil lamps in the age of electricity. In the mid-1970s Willy Brandt, a former German chancellor, pronounced that “western Europe has only 20 or 30 more years of democracy left in it; after that it will slide, engineless and rudderless, under the surrounding sea of dictatorship”. Things are not that bad these days, but China poses a far more credible threat than communism ever did to the idea that democracy is inherently superior and will eventually prevail.

 

Yet China’s stunning advances conceal deeper problems. The elite is becoming a self-perpetuating and self-serving clique. The 50 richest members of the China’s National People’s Congress are collectively worth $94.7 billion -- 60 times as much as the 50 richest members of America’s Congress. China’s growth rate has slowed from 10% to below 8% and is expected to fall further -- an enormous challenge for a regime whose legitimacy depends on its ability to deliver consistent growth.

 

At the same time, as Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out in the 19th century, democracies always look weaker than they really are: they are all confusion on the surface but have lots of hidden strengths. Being able to install alternative leaders offering alternative policies makes democracies better than autocracies at finding creative solutions to problems and rising to existential challenges, though they often take a while to zigzag to the right policies. But to succeed, both fledgling and established democracies must ensure they are built on firm foundations.

 

Getting democracy right

 

THE most striking thing about the founders of modern democracy such as James Madison and John Stuart Mill is how hard-headed they were. They regarded democracy as a powerful but imperfect mechanism: something that needed to be designed carefully, in order to harness human creativity but also to check human perversity, and then kept in good working order, constantly oiled, adjusted and worked upon.

 

The need for hard-headedness is particularly pressing when establishing a nascent democracy. One reason why so many democratic experiments have failed recently is that they put too much emphasis on elections and too little on the other essential features of democracy. The power of the state needs to be checked, for instance, and individual rights such as freedom of speech and freedom to organise must be guaranteed. The most successful new democracies have all worked in large part because they avoided the temptation of majoritarianism -- the notion that winning an election entitles the majority to do whatever it pleases. India has survived as a democracy since 1947 (apart from a couple of years of emergency rule) and Brazil since the mid-1980s for much the same reason: both put limits on the power of the government and provided guarantees for individual rights.

 

Robust constitutions not only promote long-term stability, reducing the likelihood that disgruntled minorities will take against the regime. They also bolster the struggle against corruption, the bane of developing countries. Conversely, the first sign that a fledgling democracy is heading for the rocks often comes when elected rulers try to erode constraints on their power -- often in the name of majority rule. Mr. Morsi tried to pack Egypt’s upper house with supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Yanukovych reduced the power of Ukraine’s parliament. Mr. Putin has ridden roughshod over Russia’s independent institutions in the name of the people. Several African leaders are engaging in crude majoritarianism -- removing term limits on the presidency or expanding penalties against homosexual behaviour, as Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni did on February 24th.

 

Foreign leaders should be more willing to speak out when rulers engage in such illiberal behaviour, even if a majority supports it. But the people who most need to learn this lesson are the architects of new democracies: they must recognise that robust checks and balances are just as vital to the establishment of a healthy democracy as the right to vote. Paradoxically even potential dictators have a lot to learn from events in Egypt and Ukraine: Mr. Morsi would not be spending his life shuttling between prison and a glass box in an Egyptian court, and Mr. Yanukovych would not be fleeing for his life, if they had not enraged their compatriots by accumulating so much power.

 

Even those lucky enough to live in mature democracies need to pay close attention to the architecture of their political systems. The combination of globalisation and the digital revolution has made some of democracy’s most cherished institutions look outdated. Established democracies need to update their own political systems both to address the problems they face at home, and to revitalise democracy’s image abroad. Some countries have already embarked upon this process. America’s Senate has made it harder for senators to filibuster appointments. A few states have introduced open primaries and handed redistricting to independent boundary commissions. Other obvious changes would improve matters. Reform of party financing, so that the names of all donors are made public, might reduce the influence of special interests. The European Parliament could require its MPs to present receipts with their expenses. Italy’s parliament has far too many members who are paid too much, and two equally powerful chambers, which makes it difficult to get anything done.

 

But reformers need to be much more ambitious. The best way to constrain the power of special interests is to limit the number of goodies that the state can hand out. And the best way to address popular disillusion towards politicians is to reduce the number of promises they can make. The key to a healthier democracy, in short, is a narrower state -- an idea that dates back to the American revolution.

 

“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men”, Madison argued,

“the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

 

The notion of limited government was also integral to the relaunch of democracy after the second world war. The United Nations Charter (1945) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) established rights and norms that countries could not breach, even if majorities wanted to do so.

 

These checks and balances were motivated by fear of tyranny. But today, particularly in the West, the big dangers to democracy are harder to spot. One is the growing size of the state. The relentless expansion of government is reducing liberty and handing ever more power to special interests. The other comes from government’s habit of making promises that it cannot fulfil, either by creating entitlements it cannot pay for or by waging wars that it cannot win, such as that on drugs. Both voters and governments must be persuaded of the merits of accepting restraints on the state’s natural tendency to overreach. Giving control of monetary policy to independent central banks tamed the rampant inflation of the 1980s, for example. It is time to apply the same principle of limited government to a broader range of policies. Mature democracies, just like nascent ones, require appropriate checks and balances on the power of elected government.

 

Governments can exercise self-restraint in several different ways. They can put on a golden straitjacket by adopting tight fiscal rules -- as the Swedes have done by pledging to balance their budget over the economic cycle. They can introduce “sunset clauses” that force politicians to renew laws every ten years, say. They can ask non-partisan commissions to propose long-term reforms. The Swedes rescued their pension system from collapse when an independent commission suggested pragmatic reforms including greater use of private pensions, and linking the retirement age to life-expectancy. Chile has been particularly successful at managing the combination of the volatility of the copper market and populist pressure to spend the surplus in good times. It has introduced strict rules to ensure that it runs a surplus over the economic cycle, and appointed a commission of experts to determine how to cope with economic volatility.

 

Isn’t this a recipe for weakening democracy by handing more power to the great and the good? Not necessarily. Self-denying rules can strengthen democracy by preventing people from voting for spending policies that produce bankruptcy and social breakdown and by protecting minorities from persecution. But technocracy can certainly be taken too far. Power must be delegated sparingly, in a few big areas such as monetary policy and entitlement reform, and the process must be open and transparent.

 

And delegation upwards towards grandees and technocrats must be balanced by delegation downwards, handing some decisions to ordinary people. The trick is to harness the twin forces of globalism and localism, rather than trying to ignore or resist them. With the right balance of these two approaches, the same forces that threaten established democracies from above, through globalisation, and below, through the rise of micro-powers, can reinforce rather than undermine democracy.

 

Tocqueville argued that local democracy frequently represented democracy at its best:

 

Town-meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they bring it within the people’s reach, they teach men how to use and enjoy it.”

 

City mayors regularly get twice the approval ratings of national politicians. Modern technology can implement a modern version of Tocqueville’s town-hall meetings to promote civic involvement and innovation. An online hyperdemocracy where everything is put to an endless series of public votes would play to the hand of special-interest groups. But technocracy and direct democracy can keep each other in check: independent budget commissions can assess the cost and feasibility of local ballot initiatives, for example.

 

Several places are making progress towards getting this mixture right. The most encouraging example is California. Its system of direct democracy allowed its citizens to vote for contradictory policies, such as higher spending and lower taxes, while closed primaries and gerrymandered districts institutionalised extremism. But over the past five years California has introduced a series of reforms, thanks in part to the efforts of Nicolas Berggruen, a philanthropist and investor. The state has introduced a “Think Long” committee to counteract the short-term tendencies of ballot initiatives. It has introduced open primaries and handed power to redraw boundaries to an independent commission. And it has succeeded in balancing its budget -- an achievement which Darrell Steinberg, the leader of the California Senate, described as “almost surreal”.

 

Similarly, the Finnish government has set up a non-partisan commission to produce proposals for the future of its pension system. At the same time it is trying to harness e-democracy: parliament is obliged to consider any citizens’ initiative that gains 50,000 signatures. But many more such experiments are needed -- combining technocracy with direct democracy, and upward and downward delegation -- if democracy is to zigzag its way back to health.

 

John Adams, America’s second president, once pronounced that

 

“democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

 

He was clearly wrong. Democracy was the great victor of the ideological clashes of the 20th century. But if democracy is to remain as successful in the 21st century as it was in the 20th, it must be both assiduously nurtured when it is young -- and carefully maintained when it is mature.

 

Read more from the print edition »

 

Photo credits by section: 1. AP 2. Magnum; Timeline (left to right) Reuters, Corbis, AP, AKG, Reuters, Magnum, Corbis, Getty Images, AP, AFP, Rex Features, Alamy, Magnum, AP, Getty Images, Reuters, Magnum, Reuters, Reuters, AP, Reuters, AP, Reuters, Reuters, Eyevine, Reuters, Getty Images, Reuters, AP, Reuters. Reuters, AKG 3. Alamy 4. Reuters, Getty Images, Getty Images.

 

請至原網頁參考相關圖片、民主運動小史、及統計資料

 

http://www.economist.com/news/essays/21596796-democracy-was-most-successful-political-idea-20th-century-why-has-it-run-trouble-and-what-can-be-do



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Tunisia’s Government Falls, Arab Democracy Is Born             

 

Noah Feldman, 10/01/13

 

If you blinked, you missed it, but the democratically elected Islamist government of an Arab country just promised to resign peacefully, with no threat of a coup d’etat in sight.

 

Tunisia is still a long way from political stability. Yet once again, the nation that started the Arab Spring is showing the rest of the region how it’s supposed to be done. Reasonable people facing deep disagreements are negotiating and power-sharing their way to the Holy Grail of legitimate constitutional democracy.

 

Start with the deal. Ennahda, the Islamic democratic party that formed a government after Tunisia’s free elections in 2011, didn’t agree to step down for nothing. In exchange for agreeing to resign in favor of a caretaker government of nonpartisan technocrats, Ennahda got the opposition to agree to ratify a draft constitution that has been painstakingly drafted and debated over the last year and a half.

 

Under the rules of the road, adopted after the old regime fell in January 2011, the constituent assembly can approve the constitution if two-thirds of its members vote in favor. That structure put a premium on consensus, the political value most valued by Tunisian political culture. It also put Ennahda in a tough position during the drafting process: Its slight coalition majority in the assembly gave it almost no leverage, because it needed lots of opposition votes to get to two-thirds. The only alternative was to go to the public, which might have approved the constitution by a bare majority. But that would have violated the goal of consensus, and Ennahda consistently refused to treat it as an option.

 

Egypt’s Errors

 

A culture of consensus is usually a curse for an elected majority -- but in Tunisia, it’s turned into a blessing. Instead of distrusting the opposition and trying to ram through its proposals, the way the Muslim Brotherhood tried to in Egypt, the Tunisian Islamic democrats have compromised from the start. Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, convinced (correctly, to be sure) that the Deep State wanted him out, failed utterly to include independent secularists in his government. He became so focused on the fact that a majority of the public had elected him that he forgot that it hadn’t taken a majority to bring down his predecessor, the dictator Hosni Mubarak -- just the potent combination of millions in the streets and a restive Army. Attempting to govern without broad-based support, he found himself hamstrung, thwarted and, eventually, alone.

 

In Tunisia, the government has been very attuned to the precariousness of its mandate. When secularists opposed putting Shariah into the constitution, Ennahda fumed -- then agreed. When a prominent secularist politician was assassinated in February 2012, Ennahda sought to distance itself from the radicals who carried it out -- but its own prime minister resigned in a show of contrition for failing to prevent it.

 

More recently, after the assassination of a second secularist leader in July, the Islamic democrats faced their deepest challenge yet. Secular opponents were buoyed by outrage at the killing and widespread frustration with an economy that still hasn’t turned around. Sensing that the tide was turning, the opposition essentially decided to block the constitution.

 

In crisis, Ennahda made an extraordinary decision: It would put the secular constitution it had helped draft ahead of its party interests. A starker contrast to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood could hardly be imagined. Where Morsi forced a hastily drafted, highly religious constitution through a badly fractured assembly, only to see himself ousted, Ennahda put principle first. Offering to resign not only staked the moral high ground, but also foreclosed any threat of removal by force. There’s no point in plotting a coup against a government willing to step down of its own accord.

 

Electoral Test

 

The obvious gamble Ennahda is taking might be imaginable in other regions: The government is effectively calling for new elections in a few months and hoping that the public respects its success in getting a constitution through and its modesty in putting itself up to the electoral test. But this is the Arab world we’re talking about. When was the last time power was transferred peacefully in a sovereign Arab state through free and fair elections? That would be, uh … oh yeah: never.

 

Ennahda is staking everything on the hope that Tunisia is going to become the first Arab democracy worthy of the label. Will the gamble pay off? If it does, the reason will be precisely the Tunisian norm of consensus and Ennahda’s realization that it must respect it.

 

In new democracies, it can be hard to avoid the temptation to mistake an electoral majority for the capacity to rule. But majorities don’t make democracy work. Alternating governments do. The secret sauce of democracy is no secret at all. The opposition must believe that it will someday have a chance to govern, and the majority must have the same expectation. Then, with luck, self-interest will prevail, and the majority of the moment will treat the opposition with respect in the hope and expectation of receiving the same treatment when it goes out of power.

 

By compromising on a constitutional draft and offering to resign, Tunisia’s moderate Islamists have done their part. What remains now is for the secularists to do the same, and not to repress Ennahda when they eventually get the chance. Fingers crossed.

 

Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University and the author of “Cool War: The Future of Global Competition,” is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow him on Twitter at @NoahRFeldman.

 

To contact the writer of this article: Noah Feldman at noah_feldman@harvard.edu.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net.

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-30/tunisia-s-government-falls-arab-democracy-is-born.html



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Democratic reforms in Gulf and Arab nations                     

 

The Associated Press, 10/05/13

 

A look at democratic reform efforts in Arab and Gulf nations since the Arab Spring erupted in December 2010:

 

SAUDI ARABIA

 

Saudi women were allowed this year for the first time in the Shura Council, an advisory body, and women will for the first time be allowed to vote and run in municipal elections planned for 2015. But the House of Saud runs the country.

 

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

 

The United Arab Emirates expanded the powers of its elected assembly, the Federal National Council, but it still has very limited authority and the candidates and electorate are hand-picked by the ruling families.

 

OMAN

 

Oman responded to the protests with some reforms such as elections for local councils that have no direct powers but will serve in an advisory role. But all key decisions still rest with Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

 

QATAR

 

The former emir extended the term of the country's advisory panel, also known as the Shura Council. It's unclear how long the term would last, but the move is likely to delay elections for a more powerful legislative body proposed for later this year.

 

KUWAIT

 

Kuwait has the most politically empowered parliament among the Gulf Arab states, but opposition groups want more concessions from the ruling Al Sabah family. Clashes erupted late last year before parliamentary elections that were boycotted by many opposition factions.

 

YEMEN

 

The president was forced by protesters to step down, a new constitution is being drafted and elections are expected next year.

 

BAHRAIN

 

Bahrain is in the midst of Arab Spring-inspired unrest that has been simmering for several years but so far has failed to dislodge the ruling Al Khalifas.

 

JORDAN

 

New laws give the elected parliament stronger powers including a broader supervisory role over the Cabinet and picking the prime minister, but the king retains ultimate control. King Abdullah II has said he will gradually give the parliament more oversight over the state's daily affairs, but will "continue to serve as guarantor of the constitution" and "to play a role in vital strategic issues of foreign policy and national security."

 

EGYPT

 

President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood emerged as the main winners in Egypt's first free parliamentary and presidential elections but were accused of trying to monopolize power. The military ousted Morsi in a popularly supported coup and installed a technocratic government. New elections are promised, but the timing is vague.

 

TUNISIA

 

Tunisia is struggling through a political transition after the ouster of its long-time dictator nearly three years ago. The country is suffering from economic woes and a sharp rise in extremism. Efforts to produce a new constitution have stalled and the assassinations of opposition politicians have thrown the process into chaos.

 

LIBYA

 

Libya's post-Moammar Gadhafi government has been mired in political paralysis, fueled by rivalry between a Muslim Brotherhood-led bloc of Islamists and a liberal-leaning bloc following successful parliamentary elections last year. The sides have been unable to choose an assembly to write a new constitution and the central government has failed to rein in armed militias.

 

IRAQ

 

Iraq has had several democratic elections since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein, but they are overshadowed by sectarianism and tribalism that has led to a recent rise in violence. The political process is plagued by partisanship and political gridlock, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is accused by many of having authoritarian tendencies.

 

MOROCCO

 

Sporadic protests press for greater democratic reforms, but major demonstrations ended in 2011 after a new constitution was presented and early elections were won by an opposition party.

 

ALGERIA

 

Pro-reform protests have been limited by lavish spending of oil revenue on social and jobs programs, but Algeria's vast youth population appears increasingly disenchanted with the old guard leadership.

 

SYRIA

 

President Bashar Assad has ostensibly promised reform and introduced a new constitution and new election and party laws, but such offers are seen by the opposition as efforts to buy time and rebel groups insist that he step down and hand power to a transitional government with full executive powers. The country remains mired in a civil war that killed more than 100,000 people and displaced millions of others.

 

http://news.yahoo.com/democratic-reforms-gulf-arab-nations-071525395.html



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中國的「政改」是玩假的嗎? - R. Rommann
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Are Chinese Reforms Really a Myth?

 

Ryan Rommann, 10/04/13

 

Shanghai’s new free trade zone is reform. It is a testing ground for RMB convertibility, market interest rates, foreign investment and perhaps internet openness. Granted it only encompasses 28 square kilometers and may boost economic expansion by 0.1 percentage points, it is still the country’s “new trial for opening,” in the words of Premier Li Keqiang.

 

Yet pundits still bemoan China as a “broken machine,” ineffective at meaningful change within a system of vested interests and bureaucratic cadres. Liberalization moves with excessive caution only when confronted with social unrest and economic stagnation. China, according to most, is behind the curve.

 

But slow compared to what?

 

Certainly Chinese economic reforms are more gradual than the disastrous “shock therapy” of the 1980s’ Washington Consensus. Political reforms are much slower than the Arab Spring. They are slower than Glasnost or Perestroika, and they are a crawl compared to the Cultural Revolution. This is a good thing. Another Great Leap Forward would be devastating to China and the world.

 

We must view reform through a broader lens that considers time and context. In fact, few countries have reformed at breakneck speed. The Chinese reform process is as prudent as that of its Asian neighbors and on a par with similar developing countries. Even in relation to the United States, China suffers from similar oligarchy and corporate interests. Pace is best measured in relative terms.

 

Asian Neighbors

 

China’s gradualism is not unique in Asia. Politically, soft authoritarianism has led most Asian countries.

 

South Korea alternated between autocracy, marshal law and democracy for 39 years. Park Chung Hee used torture and tanks to crush student protests with a vigor similar to that seen at Tiananmen Square. Singapore remains under the control of Lee Kuan Yew’s People’s Action Party, and 48 years after independence there remains little room for protests, unions or political opposition. Taiwan’s 228 Incident killed up to 30,000 in 1947 and was followed by the “White Terror” period. More than 140,000 political dissidents were imprisoned for being anti-Kuomintang during the 47 year reign of Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalists.

 

Politically, eight out of the 14 countries bordering China are considered “not free” by Freedom House’s 2013 rankings. Only two are completely free (India and Mongolia). China is in a league of undemocratic nations.

 

Economically, state capitalism (官僚資本主義) continues to be common in Asia. Forty percent of the world’s sovereign wealth funds reside in Asia. Russia’s Gazprom, India’s PSU banks and Thailand’s Electricity Authority need autonomy as much as China’s maligned state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Even China’s export-led growth model is not Chinese at all. Rather, it follows in the footsteps of Japan and the Asian Tigers. Those countries took decades to appreciate currencies, liberalize finance and remove government support – some of which led to the 1997 Asian financial crisis. Let’s hope China can be more cautious.

 

Developing Nations

 

China’s nominal GDP per capita is US$6,076 – below Iraq, Iran, Venezuela and Russia. 30% of Chinese live on less than $2 a day – higher than Egypt and Syria. China is a poor country and should be analyzed as such. By mapping China’s HDI (a UN standard for development) with the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, we see that China is not substantially less free than countries of similar human development. It needs further reform, but the CCP knows this.

 

The United States

 

The U.S. has historically favored free markets. Despite some mercantilist policies under Hamilton, the U.S. trumpeted Adam Smith from the beginning. Turmoil in the 1930s led to creation of a social safety net, but funded by capitalism. Reaganomics moved the pendulum back to the right in the 1980s and 90s, but we are seeing it return after the 2008 financial crisis. The U.S. resorted to bailouts, takeovers, quantitative easing and tighter regulation. If Deng Xiaoping called his reforms “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” some might call the recent changes in the U.S. “socialism with American characteristics.” 

 

It’s also easy to overlook America’s languid progress towards true democracy. It took 94 years to give African Americans the right to vote. Women, or half the voting population, were forbidden to vote for 144 years. Even after universal suffrage, poll taxes and gerrymandering limited political access.

 

Today, “powerful corporate interest groups dominate the policy agenda” according to Jeffery Sachs. Banks, healthcare, military and oil industries lobby Washington for preferential policies. This is modest compared to the role SOEs play in China, but a far cry from a free market. While pundits are busy pointing towards the myth of Chinese reform, Washington is experiencing a shutdown over healthcare. Given the state of U.S. affairs, it’s a little rich to point at China and say, “Your system is broken.” 

 

It’s only been 35 years since Deng Xiaoping started opening China. In that time, China has changed immensely, such that the China of 2013 would be completely unrecognizable to Mao. The CCP is run by “capitalist roaders” – communist in name only. Investment by “imperialists and U.S. aggressors” is welcome. Elections are held at municipal levels and a hundred flowers of thought bloom. More reform will come with time. In the meantime, some perspective is needed.       

 

Ryan Rommann is an economic researcher at Healy Consultants – Singapore. He studied at Beijing’s Tsinghua University and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

 

http://thediplomat.com/china-power/are-chinese-reforms-really-a-myth/



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「民主政治」面面觀
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以下轉貼三篇討論民主政治的文章歡迎發表高見

 

我再次提醒,每位作者都有其個別的前提和立場。請自行判斷文章的「說得通性」

 



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埃及悲劇:民主派/自由派之爭 - S. S. Shehata
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In Egypt, Democrats vs. Liberals

 

Samer S. Shehata, 07/02/13

 

Egypt has a dilemma: its politics are dominated by democrats who are not liberals and liberals who are not democrats.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Morsi’s Islamist movement, accepts -- indeed excels at -- electoral competition. Voters in 2012 gave it a far stronger grip on power than poll numbers had suggested. But that was foreseeable: though outlawed, the group built an effective political machine, starting in the 1980s, as individual members ran (as independents) in legislative and professional labor-union elections, even though Mr. Mubarak always found artifices to deny them real power.

 

Fair elections have improved the Brotherhood’s campaign skills. But it hasn’t fully committed to pluralism or to equal rights for minorities. It participates in democracy, but doesn’t want to share power.

 

Many in the opposition, on the other hand, believe fiercely in minority rights, personal freedoms, civil liberties and electoral coalition-building -- as long as the elections keep Islamists out of power. In other words, they are liberal without being democrats; they are clamoring fervently for Mr. Morsi’s ouster and want the military to intervene. But they have proved themselves woefully unequipped to organize voters. Though my heart is with their democratic goals, I must admit that their commitment to democratic principles runs skin deep.

 

So today, Egypt faces a disturbing paradox:

 

an ostensibly democratic movement is calling on the military, which produced six decades of autocrats, to oust a democratically elected president -- all in the name of setting the country, once again, on a path to democracy.

 

Since Mr. Mubarak was ousted, I have visited Egypt a half-dozen times to study the course of democracy there, most recently in March. I can attest that a year ago, most Egyptians were eager to see the generals leave the scene. Indeed, Mr. Morsi’s most popular act remains his firing of the defense minister and the military’s chief of staff last August. Strikingly, the general whom Mr. Morsi installed as defense minister, Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, now seems to hold the fate of Mr. Morsi in his hands.

 

Mr. Mubarak ruled through fraudulent elections, with the support of Egypt’s security forces, crony capitalists and the United States and other powers. Mr. Morsi is something else entirely: Egypt’s democratically elected president.

 

Still, he has been a disastrous leader: divisive, incompetent, heavy-handed and deaf to wide segments of Egyptian society who do not share his Islamist vision. He and his Brotherhood backers have focused on consolidating power rather than delivering on his promises -- to represent all Egyptians; to fix the economy; to make the streets safer, cleaner, less traffic-choked; to treat all Egyptians equally. None have been kept.  

 

Those are arguments against him. But using nondemocratic means to remove an elected leader, however inept, subverts the very essence of democracy by departing from its first principle:

 

the dependable transfer of power peacefully through elections.

 

Even some of Mr. Morsi’s detractors rightly point out that the president’s removal through mass protests and military intervention would set a terrible precedent. Egyptians would be encouraged to take to the streets and ask the generals to intervene whenever a president became unpopular. The genius of democracy, by contrast, is that it wants voters to change their minds when leaders fail and to replace them not in spasms of fury but regularly and for the best reason:

 

that others can better deliver what the people want.

 

To arrive at such a system, though, the people need patience and faith that leaders can be voted out. Mr. Morsi hurt himself badly with his efforts last November to sidestep the courts while he rammed through a constitution.

 

Still, integrating Islamists is essential if Egypt is to have stable, democratic politics. Movements like the Brotherhood are a core constituency in Egyptian society; democracy requires their inclusion. If the millions in the streets want the Brotherhood out of power, they must learn to organize and campaign effectively, and vote them out.

 

That would be the best way to establish liberal democracy in Egypt. Removing Mr. Morsi through a military coup supported by the secular and liberal opposition could well be the worst.

 

Samer S. Shehata is an associate professor of international studies at the University of Oklahoma.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/03/opinion/in-egypt-democrats-vs-liberals.html?_r=0



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21 世紀民主政治的抗爭形式 - T. L. Friedman
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Takin’ It to the Streets

 

Thomas L. Friedman, 06/29/13

 

THE former C.I.A. analyst Paul R. Pillar asked this question in a recent essay in The National Interest (請見本欄何以民主國家發生大規模抗爭? - P. R. Pillar):

 

Why are we seeing so many popular street revolt in democrcies?

 

Speaking specifically of Turkey and Brazil, but posing a question that could be applied to Egypt, Israel, Russia, Chile and the United States, Pillar asks: “The governments being protested against were freely and democratically elected. With the ballot box available, why should there be recourse to the street?”

 

It is an important question, and the answer, I believe, is the convergence of three phenomena. The first is the rise and proliferation of illiberal “majoritarian” democracies. In Russia, Turkey and today’s Egypt, we have seen mass demonstrations to protest “majoritarianism” — ruling parties that were democratically elected (or “sort of” in Russia’s case) but interpret their elections as a writ to do whatever they want once in office, including ignoring the opposition, choking the news media and otherwise behaving in imperious or corrupt ways, as if democracy is only about the right to vote, not rights in general and especially minority rights. 

 

What the protesters in Turkey, Russia and Egypt all have in common is a powerful sense of “theft,” a sense that the people who got elected are stealing something more than money: the people’s voice and right to participate in governance. Nothing can make a new democrat, someone who just earned the right to vote, angrier.

 

Here is what the satirist Bassem Youssef, the Jon Stewart of Egypt, wrote in the Egyptian daily Al Shorouk last week, on the first anniversary of the election of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood’s party: “We have a president who promised that a balanced constituent assembly would work on a constitution that everyone agrees on. We have a president who promised to be representative, but placed members of his Muslim Brotherhood in every position of power. We have a president and a party that broke all their promises, so the people have no choice but to take to the streets.”

 

A second factor is the way middle-class workers are being squeezed between a shrinking welfare state and a much more demanding job market. For so many years, workers were told that if you just work hard and play by the rules you’ll be in the middle class. That is just not true anymore. In this age of rapid globalization and automation, you have to work harder, work smarter, bring more innovation to whatever job you do, retool yourself more often — and then you can be in the middle class. There is just so much more stress on people in, or aspiring to be in, the middle class, and many more young people wondering how they’ll ever do better than their parents.

 

Too few leaders are leveling with their people about this shift, let alone helping them navigate it. And too many big political parties today are just vehicles for different coalitions to defend themselves against change rather than to lead their societies in adapting to it. Normally, this would create opportunities for the opposition parties, but in places like Turkey, Brazil, Russia and Egypt the formal opposition is feckless. So people take to the streets, forming their own opposition.

 

In America, the Tea Party began as a protest against Republicans for being soft on deficits, and Occupy Wall Street as a protest against Democrats for being soft on bankers. In Brazil, a 9 cent increase in bus fares set off mass protests, in part because it seemed so out of balance when the government was spending some $30 billion on stadiums for the Olympics and the World Cup. Writing in The American Interest, William Waack, an anchorman on Brazil’s Globo, probably spoke for many when he observed: “Brazilians don’t feel like their elected representatives at any level actually represent them, especially at a time when most leaders fear the stigma of making actual decisions (otherwise known as leading). ... It’s not about the 9 cents.”

 

China is not a democracy, but this story is a sign of the times: In a factory outside Beijing, an American businessman, Chip Starnes, president of the Florida-based Specialty Medical Supplies, was held captive for nearly a week by about 100 workers “who were demanding severance packages identical to those offered to 30 recently laid-off employees,” according to Reuters. The workers feared they would be next as the company moved some production from China to India to reduce costs. (He was released in a deal on Thursday.)

 

Finally, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook and blogging, aggrieved individuals now have much more power to engage in, and require their leaders to engage in, two-way conversations — and they have much greater ability to link up with others who share their views to hold flash protests. As Leon Aron, the Russian historian at the American Enterprise Institute, put it, “the turnaround time” between sense of grievance and action in today’s world is lightning fast and getting faster.

 

The net result is this: Autocracy is less sustainable than ever. Democracies are more prevalent than ever — but they will also be more volatile than ever. Look for more people in the streets more often over more issues with more independent means to tell their stories at ever-louder decibels.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/opinion/sunday/takin-it-to-the-streets.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=1&



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