Domestic instability overrides citizen’s wishes for democracy in recent years

Recently, regime change and the stability of the new regime has grown to be one of the most interesting and heavily debated topics in the news. The most significant part of the debate is whether the new regimes will be democratic, and if they will be able to firmly grasp hold of the country’s power in a positive way. I personally agree with Levitsky’s and Way’s definition of a four pronged test for democracy, “free, fair, and competitive elections; full adult suffrage; broad protection of civil liberties…; the absence of non-elected “tutelary” authorities” (6). Based off this definition of democracy, I do not believe that a regime change always ends in democracy because there is a large amount of qualifiers involved in declaring something a full democratic state.

While the recent regime changes involve more democratic elements in their government because of new revolutions involving social media and other innovative methods, they do not fully envelope all the necessary attributes to be known as a democracy in the world.. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the countries with a “strong tie to the west” were able to find stability in democracy. The United States, and other countries with stable and old democratic systems, agreed to withhold economic aid to countries who did not have democratic elections. These two points are tied together because the aid from the of the cause and effect solution they contain.

While these reasons are in theory good, the incentive of money only causes leaders and revolutions to go so far. Because the United States definition of democracy only considers free and fair elections, part one of Way’s test, countries only go as far as to meet standards of the countries who give out money. While the incentives are good they also have a negative side effect; countries end up having unleveled playing fields, repression of civil liberties, and massive governmental fraud or corruption. The article in freedom house discusses the actual decline in a number of freedom categories when the new regime takes over. Egypt and Tunisia, the first in the Arab Spring to oust their president highlighted great difficulty in keeping a democracy that encompasses all of Way’s definition. Freedom house asserts, “rebuilding basic institutions like the justice system, law enforcement agencies, and regulatory frameworks for the media and civil society, all of which have been warped and corrupted by decades of authoritarian rule, will require many years of effort.” These acts all follow the booting of president but are actually much harder to sustain.

In summary, while it may be easier now because of social media to remove a regime it is very difficult to fully move it to a full democracy because of the history of oppression of civil liberties, ignorance of governmental corruption, and most importantly domestic instability.


4 thoughts on “Domestic instability overrides citizen’s wishes for democracy in recent years

  1. The idea of a pure and true democracy simply may not exist. While a country may be able to get close for example: “free, fair, and competitive elections; full adult suffrage; broad protection of civil liberties…; the absence of non-elected “tutelary” authorities,” there is no way to prove a democracy fully legitimate. There will always be some form of corruption within a political system leading many scholars to throw out the idea of a pure democracy. No matter the regime change ,there will always be some form of corruption within the democratic system.

  2. There’s a scene in the classic film, Battle of Algiers, where leaders of the Algerian National Liberation Front are discussing the revolution against their French rulers. One of them says “It’s hard to start a revolution. Even harder to continue it. And hardest of all to win it. But, it’s only afterwards, when we have won, that the true difficulties begin.” To me, this quote sets the tone for the difficulties within states in transitional periods. The characters in the film are often too preoccupied with guerrilla warfare and protests in the streets that they forget too look ahead at the inevitable dilemmas of ruling a nation.

    I completely agree with your consensus that revolution or state/regime change does not directly equal a democratic outcome. Although movements proceed with a sense of greater idealism, legitimate issues of economic development, constructive legislature, and social cohesion need to be addressed in order to ensure sustained Democratic institutions. Especially with colonialism, many African states were left with no financial or structural support when the colonizing state quickly exited due to financial exhaustion while attempting to appease social unrest. In Algeria’s case, unrest for independence sparked due to the Muslim population’s lack of political and economic status within the French colonial system. But the aftermath of the revolution caused tremendous downturns in the Algerian economy and social state. Thousands of citizens were displaced. The skilled European work force fled. And the National Liberation Front implemented a form of socialism to control most of the previously owned european land and property. A civil war, caused by social dissatisfaction towards the Liberation Front’s governing, would later plague the country as well. Perhaps the intentions of revolution were correct, but the circumstances of situation destined Algeria to struggle.

    States in transition have to shift political mindsets from ‘rapid change’ to ‘ensured stability’ as soon as the opposing regime exits. In a way, states transitioning from authoritarian rule are sacrificing strict, but reliable structure for a hopeful sense of freedom and autonomy.

  3. The report you refer to is very interesting. It also reflects the general decline in the number of free states around the world.

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