-Democracy Research News-September-October 2008
Welcome to Democracy Research News, the newsletter of the Network of Democracy Research Institutes (NDRI). The Network is a membership association of institutions that conduct and publish research on democracy and democratic development. It is also one of several functional networks associated with the World Movement for Democracy (www.wmd.org). This newsletter is one means of informing democracy scholars and others worldwide about the activities of and publications produced by NDRI member institutes. The newsletter will continue to evolve as the Network grows, and we invite readers' comments and suggestions of useful features they would like to see in future issues. Additional information about the Network and profiles of all member institutes are available at www.wmd.org/ndri/ndri.html. To submit comments or to inquire about joining the Network, please write to Melissa Aten ().
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1. NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTSCall for Submissions for Democracy and Development–Journal of West African Affairs:
Democracy and Development–Journal of West African Affairs, published by the Centre for Democracy and Development (Nigeria), is a biannual journal that focuses on public policy research, the nexus of democracy, security, and development, deepening democratic governance through strengthening political parties and promoting free and fair elections, advancing people-centered development through raising capacity for MDG and gender compliant performance budgeting, improving the environment and resource governance through advancing capacity to promote transparency, accountability, and anti-corruption strategies at the local, national, regional, and international levels, and developing women’s rights and prioritizing gender as a cross-cutting theme. The Journal’s editors welcomes articles on any of the thematic areas listed above, as well as book reviews and conference and research reports. Articles should be no longer than 8,000 words and reviews no longer than 1,500 words and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information on submission requirements is available here.
Rights & Democracy Welcomes New President:
On July 7, Mr. Rémy M. Beauregard was appointed by the Government of Canada to a five-year term as president of Rights & Democracy (Canada). Mr. Beauregard has led a distinguished career in the promotion and protection of human rights in Canada and around the world. Among his many accomplishments, he has served as the Executive Director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and has worked with United Nations agencies and civil society organizations for the establishment of national human rights institutions in numerous developing countries. He also assisted with the creation of the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies and served as its first Executive Secretary. More information about Mr. Beauregard is available here.
NDRI Sponsored Two Workshops at the 5th Global Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy:
The Network of Democracy Research Institutes sponsored two workshops at the Fifth Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy, which met April 6–9, 2008, in Kiev, Ukraine. The first workshop, entitled “What Can Democracies Do to Reduce Poverty and Inequality?” and cosponsored by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa), featured NDRI panelists Diego Abente (International Forum for Democratic Studies), and Gyimah Boadi (Ghana Center for Democratic Development). Marc F. Plattner (International Forum for Democratic Studies) and Paul Graham (Institute for Democracy in South Africa) moderated the workshop.
The second workshop, entitled “Improving Democratic Governance,” was cosponsored by Democratic Institiatives Foundation (DI, Ukraine) and was moderated by Larry Diamond (International Forum for Democratic Studies) and Ilko Kucheriv (Democratic Initiatives). Featured presenters included Ahmed Bilal Mehboob (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency), Grigorij Meseznikov (Institute for Public Affairs), and Elisabeth Ungar (Congreso Visible). Workshop reports summarizing the proceedings will be distributed to all NDRI members soon.
Call for Applications for Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellowships:
The Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows Program at the Washington, D.C.-based National Endowment for Democracy invites applications for fellowships in 2009–2010. Established in 2001, the program enables democracy activists, practitioners, scholars, and journalists from around the world to deepen their understanding of democracy and to enhance their ability to promote democratic change. The program is intended primarily to support activists, practitioners, and scholars from new and aspiring democracies; distinguished scholars from the United States and other established democracies are also eligible to apply. Projects may focus on the political, social, economic, legal, and cultural aspects of democratic development and may include a range of methodologies and approaches. A working knowledge of English is required. The application deadline for fellowships in 2009–2010 has been extended until Monday, November 10, 2008. For more information and application materials, please visit www.ned.org/forum/reagan-fascell.html.
NDRI Welcomes Three New Members: We are pleased to welcome the following new members of the research network (whose activities are reported in the appropriate geographic sections of this newsletter):
• Center for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS, India), a premier Indian think tank that has carved a space for itself in the fields of democratic politics and its future, the politics of culture and knowledge, political theory, media and urban experiences, and ethnic diversity;
• Grupo Faro (Ecuador), an independent and non-partisan “do and think tank” that promotes justice, economic growth, equality and social progress in Ecuador;
• Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC, Argentina), a private, non-profit organization that strives to create a more just, democratic, and efficient state in Argentina to improve the quality of life for all Argentine citizens.
2. New Publications and Recent Events by NDRI Members
AfricaSince the last issue of Democracy Research News, Afrobarometer has published four Briefing Papers and nine Working Papers, including: “Vote Buying and Violence in Nigerian Campaign Elections” (June 2008), by Michael Bratton; “The Material and Political Bases of Lived Poverty in Africa: Insights from the Afrobarometer” (May 2008), by Robert Mattes; and “Looking Behind the Window: Measuring Instrumental and Normative Reasoning in Support for Democracy” (April 2008); by Rodolfo Sarsfield and Fabián Echegaray. Full text of these and past Afrobarometer Briefing Papers are available here. Full text of all Working Papers are available here.
In July 2008, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD, Nigeria) launched Public Finance Watch, a new Web site implemented in collaboration with several civil society organizations that seeks to enlighten the public by strengthening budget transparency through public participation. It provides civil society with an independent research, analysis, and monitoring of indicators and benchmarks outlined in the administration’s poverty reduction strategy. Detailed information about the budgets of Cross River, Osun, Anambra, Kano, Yobe, and Jigawa states in Nigeria is available at www.publicfinancewatch.org.
In July 2008 the Ghana Center for Democratic Development and Coexistence International published its second Transitional Justice Monitor, which is a reflection piece on the last two years of the institutions’ collaboration on projects that explore the relationships and links between coexistence and transitional justice in the West African sub-region. Case studies of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, and Liberia are also featured.
The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), a coalition of over 30 civil society organizations, including CDD-Ghana, released two reports ahead of the December 2008 elections. “CODEO Report on the Pre-Election Scenario for June 2008,” by John Larvie, noted a growing concern about the Electoral Commission’s delay in registering voters, as well as abuse of incumbents in their parliamentary bids. “CODEO Report on the Pre-Election Environment for May 2008,” by Miranda Greenstreet, monitored the activities of parties conducting primaries to select parliamentary nominees for the December 2008 elections, and reported that the process was “smooth and peaceful with most of the primaries,” although there were some cases of vote buying and threats of violence.
The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS, South Africa) published the June 2008 Synopsis, the Centre’s policy studies bulletin. This issue is dedicated to the recent developments in Zimbabwe and includes articles on “The Crisis in Zimbabwe: Is Africa up to the Challenge?” by Francis Kornegay and Aubrey Matshiqi, which explores the current political dynamics in Zimbabwe. The authors argue that understanding the power relations between the ZANU-PF and the military is key to resolving the election crisis. “Zimbabwe’s Endgame: End of Southern African Era of Liberation Movement Regimes,” by Francis Kornegay, examines the end of the political era of liberation movement regimes in southern Africa characterized by the successful dismantling of settler minority regimes. “Is South Africa’s ‘Quiet Diplomacy’ towards Zimbabwe Unraveling?” by Lungile Zakwe, examines the ANC’s noticeable robustness and rhetorical shift in the approach towards the crisis in Zimbabwe. Finally, “The Problem with ‘Quiet Diplomacy’” by Thabo Rapoo argues that the policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’ as a tool to resolve the political stalemate in Zimbabwe needs to be changed or radically revised.
In February 2008, the Democracy in Africa Research Unit (DARU, South Africa) published “Uncritical Citizenship’ in a ‘Low-Information’ Society: Mozambicans in Comparative Perspective,” by Carlos Shenga and Robert Mattes, in which the authors use data from the Afrobarometer to demonstrate that high proportions of Mozambicans remain unaware of the basic functions of their government or “to offer preferences about what kind of regime Mozambique ought to have.” The paper also reveals that Mozambicans exhibit some of the lowest levels of commitment to democracy measured by the Afrobarometer across 18 African multi-party states.
In the run-up to and aftermath of the spring elections in Zimbabwe, the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa) published numerous pieces to describe the situation on the ground and to analyze the resulting violence and uncertain outcome. “Negotiations, Democratic Space, and Zimbabwe’s 2008 Elections” (March 2008) discusses a series of changes to the constitution, electoral laws, and laws regulating freedom of assembly and the operation of the print and electronic media to determine if these changes have increased democratic space in Zimbabwe. “Zimbabwe and Presidential Choices-What Do the Results Tell Us?” (April 2008) examines the results of the House of Assembly and Senate contest to determine what lessons can be learned for the presidential results, which had not yet been released. “Zimbabwe: What Happened in the Presidential Election?” (May 2008) examines the two most common reactions to the announced results of the presidential election: a lack of surprise that Tsvangirai had beaten Mugabe and a lack of surprise that the Electoral Commission had not announced Tsvangirai as having won with an absolute majority. In “How to Lose an Election and Stay in Power” (June 2008), the author, Derek Matyszak, explores the judicial mechanisms deployed to achieve Mugabe’s tightening grip on power.
In June 2008, Idasa published an Occasional Paper on “Post Conflict Police Reform in South Africa and Other African Countries,” by Yvette Geyer, in which the author argues that “building sustainable democracies requires citizens to go back to basics to construct security systems appropriate to their needs and to constitute them within a rights framework and ensure that they don’t become predatory.”
Asia and the PacificIn July 2008, the Centre for Democratic Institutions (CDI, Australia) convened its 3rd Indonesia-Australia Parliamentary Committees Forum, in which it brought together Indonesian and Australian parliamentarians actively involved in committee work to facilitate discussion and giving members the opportunity to learn about parliamentary practice in both parliaments. A full workshop report, as well as a list of participants and program are available here.
In May 2008, CDI also assisted the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea with a training course for officers of the Parliamentary Service about different aspects of parliamentary work and to further develop their professional skills and thereby raise the standards of service they provide to Members of the National Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies. The course focused on understanding the Westminster Parliamentary Model, parliamentary privilege and contempt, research and analysis, planning and budgeting, writing, and committee work. A full workshop report, program, and list of participants are available here.
In May 2008, CDI conducted its 2008 Political Party Development Course at the Australian National University in Canberra. This year’s course brought together 19 senior political party officials from Indonesia, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu to strengthen their parties and party systems and contribute to improved governance and more stable democracies. The course provides participants with information on the Australian political system, an understanding of party theory and the factors that influence the development of party systems, a better understanding of parties and party systems in the region, and the opportunity to develop contacts and networks with other parties in their countries and throughout the region. More information about the course is available here.
In September 2008, Civic Exchange (Hong Kong) published “Racing for the Gold: The 2008 Hong Kong Olympic LegCo Elections,” a public opinion survey conducted between June and September 2008. Respondents were queried about their voting preferences, attitudes towards the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s decision to permit Hong Kongers to elect the Chief Executive by 2020, towards the timetable for direct elections to Legco, and the degree of their support for pro-government, pro-democracy, and independent candidates.
In August 2008, the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) published a Discussion Paper on “Proposed Revival of Student Unions in Pakistan,” which highlights the initial involvement of students in campus politics and their interaction with mainstream politics. PILDAT argues that there is an urgent need for students, teachers, parents, and administrators of educational institutions, representatives of the federal and provincial education ministries and departments, and politicians to enter into an informed discourse to decide the future course of action so that students’ unions can be revived in an orderly manner.
PILDAT also released its’ “13th National Assembly of Pakistan 4th Session Roundup,” which met from April 10-25, 2008. In the report, PILDAT commends the National Assembly Speaker for the early notification of the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition within 23 days of commencing the term of the new Assembly (compared to 20 months in the previous assembly) and the election of all the Standing Committees within a month of the inaugural sitting of the Assembly. However, it also expresses concern that the delay in electing chairpersons to the committees has withheld the activation of the committees.
In August 2008, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA, Sri Lanka) released Peace Index 2008, a public opinion poll of the Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, and Up-Country Tamil communities on the confidence in the Sri Lankan peace process and recent social, economic, and political developments.
On June 20–21, 2008, the Asian Barometer held a conference on “The State of Democratic Governance in Asia,” in Taipei, which resulted in 18 papers. Titles include: “Third Wave in East Asia: Comparative and Dynamic Perspectives” by Doh Chull Shin; “Quality of Democracy and Regime Legitimacy in East Asia” by Yun-han Chu, Min-hua Huang, and Yi-tzung Chang; “Philippine Democracy and Governance 2005: Insights from the Asian Barometer Surveys” by Segundo Eclar Romero and Linda Luz Guerrero; “How East Asians Understand Democracy From a Comparative Perspective” by Doh Chull Shin; and “Political Values and Regime Evaluation in East Asia” by Yu-tzung Chang, Alex Chang, and Yun-han Chu. Full-text of all 18 papers from the conference are available here.
EuropeThe Access to Information Program (AIP, Bulgaria) released Access to Information in Bulgaria 2007, its annual report on access to legislative information (ATI) in Bulgaria. This year’s report has a special focus on the electronic access to information and contains recommendations for improving ATI legislation, an overview of the practices within Bulgarian institutions, detailed analysis of changes to ATI legislation and practices over the last year, studies of the legal cases AIP received during the year, and results from a project that monitored the active provision of information provided by institutions’ web sites. It was edited by Gergana Jouleva and written by Alexander Kashumov, Darina Palova, Fany Davidova, Gergana Jouleva, Kiril Terziiski, and Nikolay Marekov.
The Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI, Germany) recently published the Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2008: Political Management in International Comparison, a semi-annual global ranking that measures and compares transition processes on the basis of detailed country reports. The BTI also provides comprehensive data on the quality of political management in 125 transitioning and developing countries from 2005 to 2007. The report is available for purchase here.
BTI also recently published Bound to Cooperate: Europe and the Middle East II. Edited by Christian-Peter Hanelt and Almut Möller, the book’s authors discuss a wide range of issues related to European foreign policy in the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and the Gulf region, as well as Europe’s role in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The book is available for purchase here.
In May 2008, the Center for Policy Studies (CPS, Hungary) published six new Working Papers on social capital in Hungary. Written by Andrew Cartwright, Endre Sik, and Sara Svensson, the papers include “Fostering Civic Participation in the Policy Process in Hungary: A Short Review of Policy and Practice;” “Social Capital and the Delivery of Social Services in Hungary;” “Promoting Social Capital through Public Policy in Hungary: the 2004 National Development Plan;” “The Impact of Civic Engagement on the Quality of Life in Hungary;” “Monitoring Social Capital in Hungary: A Short Review of Recent Research;” and “Social Capital, Diversity, and Trust in Hungary: Two Case Studies.”
The Institute of Public Affairs (ISP, Poland) published the June 2008 Analyses & Opinions on “Eastern Partnership: Opening a New Chapter of Polish Eastern Policy and the European Neighbourhood Policy?” by Agnieszka K. Cianciara. The ‘Eastern Partnership’ proposal, submitted jointly by the Polish and Swedish governments, is an attempt to counterbalance the project of the Union for the Mediterranean advocated by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Cianciara argues that the partnership is “an attempt to place the traditional objective of Poland’s Eastern policy within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy.” The author also argues that although the partnership proposal has been well received within the EU, a number of policy changes must be implemented, including the need to secure the support of the target countries for the initiative and to achieve concrete results in Ukraine’s progress towards greater integration within the EU.
ISP also recently published Democracy in Poland: 2005–2007, edited by Lena Kolarska-Bobinska, Jacek Kucharczyk, and Jaroslaw Zbieranek. Topics covered in the edited volume include the constitutional order, the legislative process, the party system, public administration, the justice system, combating corruption, public opinion on democracy, citizens’ activity and social protests, and government policy towards non-governmental organizations.
ISP also published a Spring 2008 Policy Brief on “New Modes of Governance in New Member States” by Tomasz Grzegorz Grosse and Lena Kolarska-Bobinska. The authors develop two contradictory hypotheses. They argue that CEE countries are not ready to implement the EU-recommended new modes of governance, which aim to contribute to increased efficiency of hierarchical structures and the introduction of horizontal information flows, consultations, and dialogue. Instead, the authors argue that the countries need to reestablish the “old” modes through strengthening the rule of law, reforms of the judicial system, improvement of the quality of legislation as well as the implementation of accountability in state institutions. At the same time, the authors argue that the new EU member states should implement the new modes of governance immediately because they could contribute to greater transparency and increase the role of social dialogue.
In July 2008, the Romanian Academic Society (SAR) published “Early Warning Report: Initiative for a Clean Justice,” in which several Romanian civil society organizations condemn the declarations of several government officials who are preparing to remove Chief Prosecutor Daniel Morar from the National Anticorruption Department. They argue that if Morar is removed, Romania risks losing European funding.
SAR also recently published its 2008 Annual Report: Romania’s First Year in the EU, in which a year of domestic fighting among political parties, with a majority in the Parliament seeking to permanently by-pass the country’s EU engagements in anticorruption and political accountability is examined. The report also finds that the “modest economic management capacity that has kept the country on the right track since 2000 is rapidly dwindling away.”
In June 2008, the Center for Liberal–Democratic Studies (CLDS, Serbia) published Reforms in Serbia: Achievements and Challenges. Edited by Boško Mijatovic, the book examines reforms in several of Serbia’s socio-economic sectors, including the financial and agriculture sectors, the health care system, social safety nets, education, pension insurance, and governance in the country.
In June 2008, the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM, Montenegro) published “Political Public Opinion in Montenegro,” in which citizens were polled about their confidence in state and religious institutions, political and public persons, newspapers, and television and radio stations, satisfaction with the government, electoral preferences, and support of membership in the EU and NATO.
In August 2008, the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO, Slovakia) published a Working Paper on “Nurturing Atlanticists in Central Europe: Case of Slovakia and Poland,” edited and co-authored by Olga Gyárfášová. Other authors include Martin Butora, Lawrence R. Silverman, Anna Horolets, Beata Roguska, Michal Wenzel, and Piotr Kazmierkiewicz, researcher at the Institute of Public Affairs (ISP, Poland). The paper analyzes the current status of the transatlantic agenda in Slovakia and Poland as reflected in the work of policymakers, civic activists, business representatives, and other actors. It also examines the role of the media, educational system, and public diplomacy in informing and engaging the broader pubilc in the issues of the transatlantic relationship and in promoting various modes of concrete cooperation.
In June 2008, IVO also published a Working Paper on “Populist Politics and Liberal Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe,” edited by Grigorij Mesežnikov, Olga Gyárfášová, and Daniel Smilov. Authors of the case studies include Renata Uitz (Hungary); Jacek Kucharczyk and Olga Wysocka (Poland); and Martin Bútora and Miroslav Kollár (Slovakia). The paper is a result of a one-year project on Populism and Liberal Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, in which scholars from four institutions---the Centre for Liberal Strategies (CLS, Bulgaria), IVO, the Institute of Public Affairs (ISP, Poland), and the Legal Studies Department at the Central European University in Hungary---analyzed various factors of populist politics in their countries, including the societal conditions that allow populism to flourish.
On September 22-23, 2008, the European Stability Initiative (ESI, Turkey), the CIDOB Foundation, the Open Society Institute Fellowship Program, and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung organized a conference on “The EU and South East Europe in 2008: Is All Still Well?” The conference featured panels on “Why Southeast Europe Matters for the EU,” “Where Will SEE Enlargement Be By the End of the Swedish Presidency in 2009?” “Serbia since October 2000,” “Is the EU Serious about Visa Liberalization,” and “Does Turkey Still Meet the Copenhagen Criteria?”
In May 2008, ESI released “The Adriatic Push for Enlargement,” a series of interviews with leading officials who promote the EU agenda in Montenegro, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia about their plans for 2008. Their responses suggest that it is likely that all Western Balkans states who have not already done so will formally apply to become candidates to join the EU in 2008.
Throughout the spring of 2008, the Democratisation and Rule of Law Program of FRIDE (La Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior, Spain) and the European Council on Foreign Relations have been working on a research project on strengthening the European Union as a force for democracy and human rights in its neighborhood. In conjunction with this project, six cases studies (Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Ukraine) have been produced that offer background, analysis, and concrete recommendations on the different instruments available to the EU to support human rights and democratic reform. The papers for Lebanon, Jordan, Azerbaijan, and Morocco are already available. The papers for Belarus and Ukraine will be available soon.
On September 22, 2008, FRIDE published “Algeria: Democratic Transition Case Study,” by Kristina Kausch and Richard Youngs. Written within the context of the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law’s project on democratic transitions, the paper explores the causes for Algeria’s failure to democratize in the 1990s by outlining the impact of long term structural variables, examining domestic and external variables that acted around the moment of potential transition in 1991-1992, and highlighting the mutual interaction of domestic and external variables in explaining the failed transition.
On September 11, 2008, FRIDE published “China: Democratising One-Party Rule?” by Shaun Breslin, a Working Paper that “examines the complex relations between nationalism, economic development, and political change in China and assesses the prospects for longer-term democratization---along with the policy implications for Western governments.”
In July 2008, FRIDE also published “Energy: A Reinforced Obstacle to Democracy?” a Working Paper by Richard Young that reveals that the opaque management of increased oil and gas revenues in oil-producing states has sparked pressure for governance reforms from within and has also encouraged new international initiatives that link energy security with good governance.
Latin AmericaIn May 2008, the Center for Opening and Development in Latin America (CADAL, Argentina) published América del sur en el Mundo de Las Democracias de Mercado (South American in a World of Market Democracies), by Héctor Ricardo Leis and Eduardo Viola. Based on Brazilian, Argentine, and Latin American experiences with market economies, the authors argue that “socio-political internal processes and anachronistic ideologies have repeatedly complicated an effective and realistic insertion in the international system.”
CADAL also published its Second Semester 2008 Local Level Journalism and Democracy Indicators in Latin America¸ which reveals that during the current succession in Cuba, the government is maintaining control over public communications; that in almost every country in the region presidents criticize media outlets and journalists on a regular basis; that the revenue bonanza enjoyed by many Latin American countries from the price of oil is strengthening government-owned media; and that many countries in the region are establishing conscience clauses, which recognize a journalist’s right not to undertake actions that go against their conscience as part of their professional work.
Grupo Faro (Ecuador) recently published its 2007 Annual Report. The annual report analyzes situation in Ecuador and concludes that “Ecuador is facing a unique opportunity that will not repeat again. Ecuador faces a new international economic environment, and never before our citizens recognized the need of change. This opportunity can be endangered, however, by the lack of a pluralistic dialogue to agree on the strategies for development”
Middle EastThe Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies (ICDS, Egypt) has posted several issues of Civil Society and Democratization in the Arab World, the Center’s monthly publication, on its Web site. The June 2008 issue features articles on “Arab Muslims Are the Problem” by Saad Eddin Ibrahim; “Undermining Mubarak” by Joel Beinin; “Against a Flawed Consensus: New Thoughts on the Sudan and Darfur” by Stephen Eric Bronner; and “Peace and Democracy in the Middle East Go Together” by Hassan Elsawaf. Also included in every issue are brief pieces on human rights news from around the Arab world. Full text of all the articles of this issue of Civil Society, as well as back-issues, are available here.
In June 2008, the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) published The 2008 Israeli Democracy Index: Auditing Israeli Democracy between the State and Civil Society, the Institute’s annual evaluation of the quality of Israeli democracy based on objective parameters and public opinion polls. Written by Asher Arian, Tamar Hermann, Nir Atmor, Yael Hadar, Yuval Lebel, and Hila Zaban, this year’s Index finds that although the Israeli public continues to show interest in politics and feels a sense of belonging to the state, the level of trust in decision makers is at its lowest since the surveys began in 2003. This distrust has led to an erosion in the political involvement of citizens and their belief that elected officials are not representing them properly. The Index also reveals a strong desire on the part of citizens “for the government to improve its functioning and to resume its central role in the political-social-economic arena.”
The Center for Strategic Studies (Jordan) recently released the results of two public opinion polls on the performance of Jordan’s new government. Both polls, “The Government of H.E. Nader Al-Dhahabi 100 Days after its Formation,” conducted in March 2008, and “The Government of H.E. Nader Al-Dhahabi 200 Days after its Formation,” conducted in June 2008, aimed to identify Jordanian citizens’ and public opinion leaders’ evaluations of the performance of the new government, as well as their evaluations of its performance in addressing the issues with which it was entrusted. Among the results of the latter poll is a decrease in the public’s positive evaluation of the government compared to the earlier poll in regard to the extent of the government’s success in addressing the issues with which it was entrusted, especially the economy.
In March 2008, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) conducted a Joint Israeli-Palestinian Public Opinion Poll on “Threatened Israelis and Palestinians Disenchanted with the Peace Process and Support Further Violence.” The poll was conducted during a period of increased violence between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with Hamas intensifying its rocket shelling on Israeli civilian communities; an Israeli incursion into Gaza that left more than 130 Palestinians dead; and a shooting attack in West Jerusalem that led to the death of 8 Israeli religious students. An examination of assessments of the negotiations launched by the Annapolis conference and the Abu Mazin-Olmert talks revealed that both Israelis and Palestinians do not hold high hopes for these talks, don’t see them as beneficial, and believe they should be stopped. Pollsters also examined attitudes regarding a permanent settlement along the lines of the Saudi (Arab League) plan and Israelis’ attitudes towards a full evacuation of the Golan Heights in return for a complete peace agreement with Syria and found that Israelis oppose the Saudi plan while Palestinians support it. Furthermore, a “majority of Israelis also oppose the evacuation of the Golan for peace with Syria. At the same time there is considerable support for launching rockets and suicide attacks among Palestinians, and support for retaliatory operations in Gaza among Israelis.”
In June, PSR released Palestinian Public Opinion Poll #28, which revealed that “with Abbas regaining some of his popularity and Hamas losing some of its popularity, and despite widespread support for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, an overwhelming majority of Palestinians opposes a ceasefire that does not include the West Bank or does not stipulate an immediate opening of the Rafah crossing to Egypt.”
On May 14, 2008, the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID, United States) held its 9th annual conference on “Political Islam and Democracy: What Do Islamists and Islamic Movements Want?” in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together 180 scholars, activists, and policymakers and featured panels on “The Intersection of Religion and Democracy: Islamist Discourses,” and “the Muslim Brotherhood and its Evolution,” “Negotiating Democracy: the North African Context.” A conference report that includes summaries of the panels and papers presented is available here.
Russia and the Former Soviet Union
In 2008 the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy, and Development (CIPDD, Georgia) published “Security Sector Reform in Georgia, 2004–2007,” by David Darchiashvili. The 68-page paper deals with the issues of building and reforming the security sector of the Georgian state, which is in the middle of a transition and faces an array of challenges. It includes sections that define the security sector, provide an overview of security problems facing Georgia in 2003–2007, map out the current security situation, analyze some of the current security challenges, and prescribe recommendations for future security sector reforms.
United States and CanadaIn March 2008 Rights & Democracy (International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, Canada) published “Public Interest Litigation and Political Activism in China,” by Titi Lu, which examines how Chinese lawyers take seemingly non-political cases to court with the intention of bringing about political change. They are careful to choose causes that do not directly attack the government, but that offer an opportunity to spur important changes in government policy.
The Center for Democracy and Civil Society (CDACS, United States) published the Spring 2008 Democracy and Society. The special issue on civil liberties, human rights, and terrorism features articles on “Defending American Presidential Authority in a Post 9/11 World: Department Memoranda” by David Schultz; “Emotion and Deliberation in the Post 9/11 Media Coverage of Civil Liberties” by Linda M. Merola; and “Shutting the Door on Academic Exchange: The Exclusion of South African Scholar Adam Habib from the United States” by Patrick Bond. The issue also features several book reviews, as well as news and activities about the Center.
The Center for the Study of Democracy (United States) recently added several new papers to its eScholarship Repository. Terry Karl’s “Democracy over a Barrel: Oil, Regime Change and War” (July 7, 2008) asks if oil-exporting countries face special democratization problems. Miki Caul Kittilson and Russell J. Dalton’s “The Internet and Virtual Civil Society: The New Frontier of Social Capital” (April 16, 2008) examines “how interpersonal social group activity and virtual activity contribute to the multiple dimensions of social capital: social trust, citizen norms and political involvement.” The authors’ research suggests that virtual interactions do indeed foster democratic norms and activities. Edurne Bartolomé Peral’s April 16, 2008, paper on “Support for the Democratic Process in Europe” explores levels of satisfaction with democracy in different European societies. Finally, Christian Welzel and Ronald Inglehart’s March 19, 2008, “Democracy as Human Empowerment: The Role of Ordinary People in the Emergence and Survival of Democracy” argues that effective democracy emerges because “ordinary people become increasingly capable and willing to place effective mass pressures on the elite.”
The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL, United States) published several new Working Papers in recent months. “Algeria: Democratic Transition Case Study,” (August 2008) by Kristina Kausch and Richard Youngs, examines the reasons for the failure of the country to democratize in the 1990s by analyzing the long term structural, domestic, and external variables at play around the moment of potential transition. A. David Adesnik and Sunhyuk Kim’s July 2008 “If At First You Don’t Succeed: The Puzzle of South Korea’s Democratic Transition” examines the dictatorship of Park Chung Hee, his subsequent assassination, and the resulting dictatorship of Gen. Chun Doo Hwan. Antoinette Handley’s May 2008 “‘The World Bank Made Me Do It?’ International Factors and Ghana’s Transition to Democracy” examines two phases of transition in Ghana. The first stage was characterized by political change was directed from the top down, while the second stage was characterized by pressure from international financial institutions and associated donors.
In May 2008, Payne Distinguished Visiting Lecturer, CDDRL Visiting Scholar, and former President of Peru Alejandro Toledo gave the final lecture in the 2008 Payne Lecture Series on “Can the Poor Afford Democracy? A Presidential Perspective.” The PowerPoint presentation and audio recording from President Toledo’s presentation is available here.
The International Forum for Democratic Studies (United States) released the April and July issues of the Journal of Democracy. The April issue featured a cluster of articles on Africa’s unsteady advance toward democracy, as well as individual studies of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Russia, and trends in democracy assistance in Europe and the United States. The July issue featured a symposium on “Islamist Parties and Democracy,” which was also the subject of a July 21 event that featured Hillel Fradkin, Laith Kubba, Amr Hamzawy, and Tamara Cofman Wittes.
On May 5, 2008, the Forum and NED’s South and Southeast Asia Program cosponsored a day-long event on “Pakistan: Advancing Democracy and Security,” featuring a keynote address by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte. Participants discussed what institutional reforms and other strategies can help Pakistan to beat the odds against another military coup and build an effective and stable democracy. A transcript of Ambassador Negroponte’s remarks and video of the event, are available here.
The Forum also sponsored several lunches featuring its Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellows, including Angelo Izama’s February 11 event on “Regional Options for Peace in the Great Lakes: The Case of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army;” Mustafa Safwat Rashid Sidqi’s February 7 event on “Prospects for Iraqi National Reconciliation: Searching for a Plan;” Kate Zhou’s May 15 event on “Liberalization and Authoritarianism in Contemporary China: From the Growth of Grassroots Liberty to Nationalist Furor over Tibet;” Giorgi Areshidze’s June 4 event on “State-Building versus Democracy in Georgia: Origins and Outcomes of the Rose Revolution;” Tom Gallagher’s June 5 presentation on “The Missing British Dream? A Fractured Democracy Faces Muslim Discontent;” Okechukwu Nwanguma’s June 18 event on “Towards Police Reform in Nigeria: The Role of Civil Society;” and Alice Verghese’s June 25 event on “Torture, Justice, and Democracy: Myths and Misconceptions.” More information about the Reagan Fascell fellows, their projects, and their events is available here.
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