How Can Genuine Democracy Emerge from Authoritarian Regimes?

Topics: Democracy, Liberal democracy, Democratization Pages: 13 (4000 words) Published: May 17, 2013
How can genuine democracy emerge from authoritarian regimes?

Victoria Yuzova

St.Petersburg State University
1.What is authoritarianism?3
2.What is Democracy?4
3. Democratization.5
3.1. Definition of democratization.5
3.2. What can facilitate transition to democracy?6
3.3. Historical cases9
3.4. Views on democratization.10


Peaceful protests with unrelenting public courage to demand democratic transitions from authoritarian regimes made history across the Arab world. Unparalleled forms of social power are shaping the future of democracy. Tensions between an expanding global consciousness and old structures that limit freedom are giving birth to new experiments in governance. Although the perception and implementation of democracy differ globally, it is generally accepted that democracy is a relationship between a responsible citizenry and a responsive government that encourages participation in the political process and guarantees basic rights.

Social revolutions in 2011 are not yet reflected in Freedom House's 2010 ratings, which showed political and civil liberties declined for the fifth consecutive year, the longest decline since 1972, when the annual analysis began. Freedom declined in 25 countries and improved in 11. Those living in 87 "free" countries constituted 43% of world population, while 20% live in 60 "partly free" countries, and 35% (over 2.5 billion people) live in 47 countries listed as "not free." There were 115 electoral democracies in 2010, compared with 123 in 2005. Press freedoms have declined for nine consecutive years; 15% of the world lives in the 68 countries with a "free" press, 42% in 65 countries with a "partly free" press, and 43% live in 63 countries without free media.[1]

Predominantly young and increasingly educated populations are using the Internet to organize around common ideals, independent of conventional institutional controls and regardless of nationality or languages. These new forms of Internet-augmented democracy are beginning to wield unparalleled social power, often bypassing conventional news media, as happened in the Arab Spring Awakening, where 60% of the population is below the age of 30.

1.What is authoritarianism?

Authoritarianism is a historically generated phenomenon in response to state crises of political order. Its main characteristic has been elitist dictatorship, with the occasional cult of personality. It is a response to democratic failure, social polarization, economic stagnation, and international instability.[2]

It generally exercises sovereign power through single-party rule, and may depend upon military forces to maintain order. In its extreme control over society, it may become a totalitarian monopoly. Authoritarian regimes often offer trade-offs between economic development and political democracy, and have been the historical gateway to democratic systems when political order is well-established, and long-term economic progress is anticipated.

Authoritarianism is a theory and a system of government customarily linked with dictatorship, in contrast to democracy. It is a principle based on obedience to authority, and opposes autonomy of individuals in thought and action. As a form of government, authoritarianism concentrates power in a leader or in a small elite not constitutionally accountable to the people. Unlike totalitarian systems, authoritarian governments usually lack a highly developed ideology. Also, the latter tends to tolerate a degree of pluralism in social organization, usually lacks the power to mobilize the nation for collective goals, and exercises its power within limits. Leaders in authoritarian systems often exercise their power arbitrarily and consider themselves above existing law. Modern authoritarian systems usually operate through single, dominant parties, which...
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