Sep 16, 2014
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

D&S Vol 11, Is 2 Spring-Summer 2014

Ten Years of CDACS: The State of Democracy and Democracy Studies

D&S Vol 11, Is 2 Spring-Summer 2014

In this issue:

Challenges of Democracy Consolidation: The Impact of AKP in Turkey

  • By Selma Bardakci, Ertugrul Genc, and Dilara C. Hekimci

Democracy in Crisis: An Interview with Dr. Benjamin Barber

Ten Years of CDACS: The State of Democracy and Democracy Studies

  • By Yonatan Morse

The “Moral Project” of Post-Communist Ukraine: Understanding the State, Nation(s), and the Future of Ukraine

  • By Katie LaRoque

Cuba: Economic Reform and Political Change

  • By Meagan Moody

A Hurdle Too High: Regionalism in South Korea

  • By So Jin Lee

Transitional Justice in El Salvador: A Case Study

  • By Salvador Ernesto Peneda Depaz


Sep 16, 2014
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Call for Papers

Democracy & Society Vol. 12, Issue 1 (Fall-Winter 2014)

The Democracy and Governance Program at Georgetown University is seeking well-written, interesting submissions of 1,500 – 2,000 words for their Fall-Winter 2014 publication, Democracy & Society. The submissions can be new publications, summaries, excerpts of recently completed research book reviews, and works in progress. Submissions for this issue will be due by November 10, 2014. Please email all submissions along with a brief author’s bio to

Democracy, Conflict and Peace-Building:

Across the globe policymakers are faced with the daunting task of forging democratic institutions after severe conflict. Likewise, we have seen supposedly stable democracies falter into civil war. International peacemaking institutions face unforeseen challenges, and at times making peace and restoring democracy seems out of reach. With recent conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe in mind, what do we know about the relationships between democracy, conflict and peace building?

We are seeking articles that address the following issues and questions:

Forging Democracy after Conflict: If democracy is to be used as a conflict resolution measure, what practices have worked best and which have failed? How do you forge democratic institutions after severe conflict? What tools must we use to address these conflicts and promote stability and peace in volatile, post-conflict states?

Transitional Justice: What new insights are there into this longstanding question – how do you balance the need for accountability after conflict with the need to reach consensus in order to build new political institutions?

The Relationship between Democracy and Conflict: Does democracy foster stability, or rather, in certain contexts, does it lay the seeds for future conflict? Do democratic institutions actually solve conflict or simply reinforce and freeze existing tensions and divisions?

The Causes of Conflict: Are there new insights into the causes of civil conflict, and what new information do we have about the role of resources, state capacity, and sectarian division?

Variations on these themes will be accepted. Research on post-conflict societies, democratic proliferation, and analysis of war and peace are encouraged. Questions and comments are welcome.

Please visit, for more information about Democracy & Society and for more information about the M.A. in Democracy and Governance and the Center for Democracy and Civil Society.

Jun 9, 2014
Erika Hernandez

Popular Europhobics. EU’s Parliamentarian Elections

Successful campaign by the National Front in France.  Source: ANDRIEU / AFP / Getty Images.

Successful campaign by the National Front in France. Source: ANDRIEU / AFP / Getty Images.

Any democratic government needs to have opposition in order to fully represent people’s interests. This fosters political balance, helps keep policy expenditures under control and assists citizens in reaching an ideological compromise. But when the opposition engages in promoting exclusionary political platforms, this challenges democratic advancement while instilling authoritarian features. According to provisional results by the Wall Street Journal, it is estimated that the right won 297 seats out of the 751 total seats in the European parliament. WSJ also calculates that left-wing parties only won 232 seats. Right-wing parties in this region blame European bureaucracy and immigration for the sluggish economy. However, it is precisely international cooperation that can help European nations rise from the chronic economic depression. Despite the fact that the EU increased to 28 members last year, voter turnout remains low –barely a 43.1%. This reveals that left-wing supporters are discouraged to vote and some might have made a switch to the right. So far, left-wing parties have not built up a strong enough nor convincing platform to get the EU out of its depression. More importantly, where have the supporters of the EU model gone?

The electoral results are remarkably discouraging. Conservative parties have had an impressive advance in people’s hearts. These parties have strong supporters in several countries now: the UK, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Latvia and Ireland. Although some of them like France’s Front National and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang have had to tone down their anti-immigration sentiments, their rhetoric remains discriminatory. In Germany, the right took 34 seats of the EU parliament and is represented by the CDU/CSU alliance. This collation rejects Turkey’s membership to the European Union although Germany is Turkey’s greatest trading partner and has the largest Turkish diaspora. In Denmark, the right took 5 seats of the 13 EU seats that the country can take. It is mainly represented by the Danish Popular Party (DF), which opposes immigration and proposes to re-establish border controls but is not anti-Semitist as France’s National Front is. The DF doubled its number of seats since 2009. In France, the far-right National Front (FN) gained a large amount of votes –26% or 4.1 million votes. With its anti-immigration and anti-EU party discourse, it won 25 out of the 74 seats in the EU parliament that correspond to France. The FN “earthquake” not only has had an effect in its home country but it has also had an effect in its European neighbors. Thus, the trend is spreading.

But the reasoning behind the Europhobia is the economic depression.  The highest economic growth in the EU area during this last decade was 3.4% in 2006. The financial crisis hit hard the zone by having the GDP contract 4.5%. In 2013, the GDP growth rate stood at 0.1%. Unemployment has been strikingly high and only narrowly reduced in 2008. In the EU-28 area, unemployment was at 9.3% in 2004; 7% in 2008; and, jumped to 10.8% in 2013. A sluggish economy in the EU is a clear indicator of uneasiness among European countries that feel having contributed more than received. Such is the discourse of the right-wing in Germany and France. This is precisely one of the complaints that parties like the FN have been able to use as a leverage for their campaign. Certainly, the more economic strain, the more the perceptions exists that money needs to be preserved even at the cost of liberal values. Clearly, the economic downturn inhibited EU lovers from voting as the economic crisis appears not to end.

The emerging right-wing European parties are exclusionary. For the most part, they do not intend to continue embracing the EU project as there exist perceptions of economic abuse by states in Southern Europe. But despite their views favoring segregation, these parties should not be precluded from participating in the democratic project. Rather, they should be included. However, these parties need to realize that the EU compromise cannot be undone. Instead, they need to seek alternative solutions to the economic crisis. They should create more realistic platforms to help nations cope with their deficits. The solution is not diminished cooperation but rather an increased one. One that is fostered through debate, bringing to the table the brightest ideas by inviting the smartest political scientists, economists, respected financial leaders, among others, able to envision and craft a better and brighter EU.

May 31, 2014
Erika Hernandez

Egypt: A New Hybrid Regime?


El-Sisi supporters. Source: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

El-Sisi supporters. Source: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Presidential elections in Egypt finalized this Thursday with a voter turnout of 46% – a slightly lower turnout than the 2012 presidential elections with a 51.85% turnout. It is not surprising that the volatile situation and fear of retribution could have played an influential role on this. Not only was voting extended to a third day but substantial propaganda was used by the government. Today, it is clear that Egypt’s military is not a purely professionalized institution as army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi accepted to become presidential candidate for this year’s elections. What is astounding is that, his charismatic character appears to be fusing already with militarism. In the following years, it is highly probable to see that Egypt’s regime becomes a hybrid regime like Pinochet’s Chile –a military-personalist one.

Voter turnout was so low for presidential elections that voting was extended to a third day. The government tried first to allure citizens through declaring a last-minute holiday. It then tried to coax citizens by threatening to fine those who did not vote. It is quite possible that this strategy was aimed at convincing the international community about the support that el-Sisi has as well as to demonstrate an alleged disapproval for the Muslim Brotherhood. However, all this has demonstrated to political analysts is Egyptians’ discomfort with the current political situation. It is obvious that a large percent of the population supporting the Brotherhood did not vote and also considering that one million ballots were casted blank. El-Sisi’s left-wing rival, Hamdin Sabbahi, obtained less than 4% of the votes. Moreover, social inequality does not appear to have played an important role. Despite perceptions that a strong inequality might have driven revolutionary spirits, a study by the World Bank showed that, in fact, inequality had decreased. However, according to the World Values Survey, expectations for a better living surpassed the moderate economic gains.

The new regime type that is being brewed is a hybrid regime because it has several authoritarian traits while apparently holding free –albeit not so fair– elections. For starters, el-Sisi announced on May 16 that the Muslim Brotherhood would be finished. Second, he and his supporters have already been blamed for the deaths of several of the Brotherhood’s supporters in August of 2013. In an aim to continue modernizing Egypt à la Nasser, the military is excluding a relevant societal sector. Without inclusiveness –a necessary condition for democracy to flourish as per Robert Dahl– Egypt’s democratization will be doomed to failure. Egypt’s regime has the initial features of the hybrid “military-personalist” regime. For Geddes (2002), under this kind of rule the military remains professionalized but the dictator makes most decisions, such as Chile under Augusto Pinochet’s rule. For this researcher, the combination of such features can make regimes last significantly more than if they only were pure militarism. If we were to use Geddes theory on the length of military-personalist regimes, we could expect an approximate duration of el-Sisi’s rule of 10.3 years (average), holding constant economic and other political factors.

Egypt’s elections low voter turnout must be considered as a red flag. Transition periods are usually characterized by large numbers of citizens wanting to participate in the political process, depicted by a high voter turnout. Nevertheless, the recent repressive tactics have intimidated voters from supporting the Muslim Brotherhood as no representatives from the Brotherhood were allowed to participate in elections. Indeed, many were unsatisfied with their rule but ignoring their presence only increases resentment that can accumulate as a pressure cooker. The following weeks will reveal whether such type of regime is possible and if it will possess the durability that Pinochet’s regime had. Indeed, time will tell. So far, we can already observe that personalism is a tool that the new polity is to employ.

May 28, 2014
Erika Hernandez

A Coca Leaf of Peace? First Round of Presidential Elections in Colombia.


Anti-FARC protest. Source: The Economist

Anti-FARC protest. Source: The Economist

This Sunday, the first round of presidential elections in Colombia revealed the citizens’ exhaustion with the guerrilla warfare. President Juan Manuel Santos launched a poor PR strategy while committing the country to an idealized peace process that would divide the society into two poles –the left and the right. Interestingly, having the former Finance Minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga win the first round of elections with an incendiary discourse demonstrated a deep resentment and will to punish, mercylessly, all those responsible for advancing the warfare –the FARC members. A polarized society can be viewed while looking at voters’ tendencies during this round. Zuluaga captured the right voters by 29.26%, and Marta Lucia Ramirez 15.53%. Similarly, Santos seized the left-wing vote with 25.68%; while Clara Lopez with 15.23%. Former Bogota mayor Enrique Peñalosa, who is a liberal, obtained 8.2%. These numbers reflect the lack of coordination within the left wing voters whose trend is likely to remain uncoordinated for the second round. But as voter behavior is oftentimes unpredictable, a window of opportunity for collaboration in the left is yet possible.

If voter turnout in Colombia has been typically low compared to other Latin American countries, this round hit its lowest peak since 2002 with a 40% turnout. The average voter turnout in the region during presidential elections from 1945-2013 has been 64.77%. Although this high turnout may be explained due to mandatory voting in 14 countries, nonvoting it is hardly penalized. There are three possible explanations for low voter turnout in Colombia: fear of retribution by guerrilla fighters; fear of Cubanization; and, lack of political parties and unions able to articulate voter preferences of the lower strata. The first interpretation relates to a longtime guerrilla warfare since 1964 that has alienated the right from the left and the left itself: those against the guerrilla and those quietly favoring it. The second assessment is related to concerns about Colombia becoming another Venezuela in that, through Cubanization, the country could undergo scarcity of basic goods. The third statement refers to the Meltzer-Richard (MR) model. This model indicates that in countries where the median voter is underneath the average income, their numbers will drive them to favor distributive policies like higher taxation. Over the time, theorists like Scheve and Stasavage (2009) have added that left-wing parties and unions are necessary in order to neatly articulate such inclinations. This socio-political behavior oftentimes takes place in countries where there is great income inequality. Given that Colombia is a country with high inequality, the country may conform to this model. Since 1980 up until 2010, inequality was only reduced by 3.19 according to World Bank estimates.

Despite the fact that inequality is still high in the country, it is considered an upper middle income country. During this decade, GDP growth remained steady except for 2009 when it was affected by the economic crisis. For the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the upper income strata was mobilized and managed to push forward the signing of the cherished agreement, bringing hopes of further economic development. On the one hand, the upper strata has later been mobilized by former President Alvaro Uribe for which the urbismo movement was created and was later brought together to create the party Colombia First. The Democratic Center –Zuluaga’s current party– is currently managing to coordinate conservative interests. On the other hand, President Santos created the Social Party of National Unity in 2005 with the aim of catering to the interests of liberals. However, its organization efforts have not been as efficient as the ones under urbismo. Today, the first round of elections are an evidence of this. But more importantly, we can see that the FARC has been unable to unify the interests of the left, as a union can.

Colombian voters have an immense challenge on June 15. For the second round, the left and right tendencies seem to have an equal weight, with the only difference that the discourse of avengement has united the right. Although Peñalosa has already mentioned that he will not back Zuluaga, such statement will not automatically transfer his votes to Santos. The second round is likely to further divide his followers. In order to gain votes, Santos needs to convey a clear message explaining the importance of integrating FARC segregated groups and why a forgiveness is essential for the country’s future without defaulting into full impunity. Indeed, Santos will need to make a compromise that might lose some guerrilla supporters. But failing to do this, can make him lose the election and make the country to continue undergoing war. This scenario could taint Colombia’s history with more blood than necessary.

Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

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