The Paradox of Democratic Divergence (Essay Sample)
Choose ONE question and answer in 7-9 pages:
1. Explain the paradox of democratic divergence (sources: lectures, Kurlanzick)
2. Explain the paradox of electoral economics (sources: lectures, Bates)
3. Explain bridging institutions (sources: lectures, Mann)
1. Bates, R. H. (2015).When things fell apart. Cambridge University Press
2. Kurlantzick, J. (2013).Democracy in retreat: The revolt of the middle class and the worldwide decline of representative government. Yale University Press
3. Mann, M. (2004).Fascists. Cambridge University Press
Sources: at least 3
The Paradox of Democratic Divergence
The concept of democracy is complex and multidimensional. Primarily, democratization is a dynamic process that ascribes cultural, socio-economic, religious, and political liberties. In recognizing this complexity, Kurlantzick argues that democratic transition begins with a successful revolution against the authoritarian regime to attain free, fair, and competitive elections (23). However, this notion presents a transformation that is eminently tentative and potentially reversible. Even though this is a laudable achievement, authoritarian reversion is present in most states due to failures in the political opening (POL120 Feb 3 Class Notes). Such extremely compromised civil liberties and the collapse of elections to deliver real alternate powers have also led to democratic regression. The divergent trajectory has incorporated subtleties in civil society, leadership, and in the role of the military. Of ancillary importance is the international influence and issues of temporality in the democratic approach used to attain freedom.
Constitutional status across the globe have taken different stances since the 1990s. For decades, political and economic growth has been used as a measure of democratic freedom, especially when the vibrant middle class takes root. This notion underlies the dynamic expansion of Eastern Europe and strategic American foreign policy. Further, the collapse of communism in the 1990s formed a culminating point for most of the revolutionary changes in Europe (Kurlantzick 201). Throughout the Soviet Union, political reforms occurred, putting an end to dictatorial communist rule. Autocratic governments were replaced by elected leaders marking the advent of democracy. The change, combined with a market economy, represented the direction in which countries, such as China and Russia, would inevitably partake. However, as Slattery points out, democracy has retrenched across the globe, and middle class and seamlessly, the middle class has played a central role (par. 3). Kurlantzick states that China has remained authoritarian, while countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Russia have not diverged either (56). Arguably, the extreme democratic decline has swept across the globe.
Unlike the 1990s, when democracy seemed sovereign, regional powers, including Mexico, Nigeria, Kenya, and Russia, continued to harm the prospect of justice. Meanwhile, the number of democratic states reduced tremendously since 1995 and over 25 countries witnessed a downward trajectory in freedom, including Ukraine. Political participation, the rule of law, and the stability of democratic institutions have wavered, indicating inadequacy in democracy. Kurlantzick notes that new democratic models have evolved in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Europe (111). Populists and far-right parties with little interest in a democracy have steadily gained popularity, and coups are becoming the norm in Guinea, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Fiji. According to Bellin, the Arab uprising of 2011-2012 challenged authoritarian rule across the Middle East; hence the possibility that the Arab region might be adopting democratic reforms took the world by surprise (450). However, within the last five years, the progress has been dashed due to the predominance of authoritarian repression, civil wars, and state collapse. In several Arab countries, the role of Islamic civilization has become increasingly intertwined with democratization. But, countries such as Yemen, and Libya, where the link is not explicit, democracy has been inferred in a bid to justify the association between faith and state. Therefore, the fusion of these two elements has, by far, hindered the progress towards democracy, thus leading to regression.
Pessimists deemed the crumble of authoritarian states across the Middle East inevitable, but countries like Tunisia have different opinions. Comparatively, both Egypt and Tunisia are historically robust states comprising ethnically homogenous societies. At the start of the democratic uprising, the two nations were associated with China and Russia in which democratic transition was foreseeable. Years later, Egypt and Tunisia have mainly experienced dissimilar political and economic liberties. For instance, the recent elections in Tunisia exemplified democratic development exhibited by the victory of the previously banned Islamic Ennahdha Party (Zollner 7). In Egypt, military control has remained unsuccessful in efforts to transition from democratic singularity into democratic pluralism. The Muslim brotherhood is expected to emerge as the most dominant political player, likely to devastate the expectations of Hosni Mubarak's reconciliatory, pro-Israel regime, and consequently the constitutional status of the country. The Jordan democratic strategy mirrors that of North Africa and the Middle East, given that the country's foreign policy has become increasingly more receptive to public view (Bellin 441). The pro-Western stance is, however, steadily integrating heterogeneous Islamism's, pluralism, and fervent anti-Zionism. In this view, severe discrepancy lingers to characterize contemporary government perceptions.
African contemporary democratization represents democratic divergence. After decades of autocratic dominance, most African states shifted towards a representative electoral system of government. Benin, South Africa, Ghana, Mali, and the East Africa region have embraced democracy. The progress has been attributed to the emergence of civil societies, free media, political expression, and popular support of autonomy. Democratic development is, however, far from universal since tyrannical governments continue to emerge while others remain firmly in place, maintaining a monopolistic approach in power(POLI120 Clss Notes). While opposition parties, civil societies, and electoral processes are allowed, most countries remain authoritarian hence constricting ability with little to no genuine oversight on ruling parties. Despite remarkable democratic advancement, the future trajectory of African countries, especially North Africa, remains uncertain.
The Middle East governments that have arisen from Arab spring are becoming more divergent. On the whole, the region's political stance is continuously shifting towards policies that involve both Western skepticism and institutional Islam. The emerging constituents of the Middle East express divergent opinions with their rigid system of government though adamant support of Western influence and fusion of state and religion. The ongoing Islamophobia that plagues Europe and the United States is becoming even more salient in the Arab world. According to Kurlantzick, some regions democratize politics while others experience democratic regression; this shows extreme diversification in political ideologies (88). Kurlantzick also adds that the moderately cordial relationship between the European Union, the United States, and the Middle East is likely to diminish (90). After all, democracy theoretically represents the desires of people, which in this case, are less significant concerning the desired amity with the West. Western governments, on the other hand, continue to grow intolerant of the Muslim culture. Thus, the two regions are likely to diverge into diplomatic turbulence rather than harmonious shared systems of governments. The increasing rate of ideological differences between populations, their current, and desired economics, as well as political systems, is likely to shape out future democratic policies. However, These systems may illustrate democratic regression as well.
Latin America has experienced a dynamic democratic transition since the twentieth century. Countries in the region have harnessed economic and political freedom to achieve a change to a democratic regime. This revolution denotes that most states have attained or are close to attaining democracy as the dominant form of government. Research by Kurlantzick questions the quality, consolidation, economic-preconditions for freedom, and maintenance of equality in different regions (14). For instance, countries such as Venezuela, which attained democracy earlier than the third wave, have started to parade political turmoil. The disillusioned middle class has turned to the streets in appeal to the judiciary to remove elected leaders. From Algeria to Zimbabwe, the rising middle class seems more harmonious with the military as a bulwark against popular democracy. Honig notes that for the last decade, the middle class has been afraid that democracy would overpower poverty, religion, and illiteracy (115). Arguably, the public distaste for equality has increased, and the government seems to clamp down on activists without mercy. Slattery describes the defection of the middle classes as the main reason underlying democracy’s current troubles (par. 4). The defection is caused by economic instability, corruption, and civil unrest.
Transition to democracy has impacted more woes to the middle class than perceived economic liberty. Based on February 3 class notes, the shift towards democratization may create both stabe and unstable democracies (POLI120). For instance, a sizeable number of the middle class turned into a primary impediment to democratic consolidation. Research validates that midly authoritarian regimes are often preferred by the middle class as they readily associatve such systemizations with better economic and political control in comparison to contemporary democracies (75). However, the middle class can no longer be used to force democratization as people are more enlightened and capable of promulgating change. This aspect marks an enormous shift that is likely to challenge the very essence of democratization....
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