Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
2Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Variations in the outcomes of democratization

Variations in the outcomes of democratization

Ratings: (0)|Views: 17|Likes:
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Gregory Lau. Originally submitted for GOVT S-20 Introduction to Comparative Politics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with lecturer Fujihira, Shinju in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Gregory Lau. Originally submitted for GOVT S-20 Introduction to Comparative Politics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with lecturer Fujihira, Shinju in the category of International Relations & Politics

More info:

Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
See more
See less

01/02/2014

 
In the past two decades, numerous countries all over the world made the transition todemocracy. However, the task of fully developing and sustaining democracy has proven to bea challenging one. South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria and Russia are examples of countries thathad adopted democracy, but all of them exhibit varying degrees of democratization. Uponcloser examination, a comparative study leads us to three important factors which determinethe success of democratic consolidation: civil society, the strength of the state and economic performance (listed in decreasing order of importance). Investigation of these factors allowsus to better understand the varying extent of democratic consolidation exhibited by newdemocracies.Variations of democratizationThe tricky task of quantifying the degree of democratization of countries has beenattempted by Freedom House, a non-governmental organization dedicated to assessing theextent of civil and political liberalization in countries. According to the Freedom House 2009ratings (1 being the most democratic and 7 the least), South Korea and Mexico are considered‘Free’, with aggregate
1
scores of 1.5 and 2.5 respectively while Nigeria and Russia areconsidered ‘Not Free’, with aggregate scores of 5.5 and 6.5 respectively
2
. Thus based onthese ratings, South Korea is the most democratic, followed by Mexico, Nigeria and lastlyRussia. A closer look at the political situations in these countries supports this ranking.South Korea, despite a history of military authoritarianism, is now the mostsuccessful case of democratic consolidation among the four countries. The repressive natureof the past military regimes caused militarism to become delegitimized as a viable political
1
There are two components to Freedom House ratings for each country: Political Rights and CivilLiberties. The scores listed are an average of the two.
2
Puddington,
The Erosion Accelerates,
p. 138
 
regime. Thus the South Koreans turned to democracy instead. Modernization and economicdevelopment strengthened the middle class, fueling more forceful civic protests and active participation in public policy. One such example is the 2008 mass protest over U.S. beef imports
3
. The freedom to vote for opposition is evident from the peaceful transfers of power  between the two main political parties, the conservatives and progressives, since the adoptionof democracy
4
.However, there is still an element of an unfair political playing field with atrend of incumbent governments politically attacking opposition leaders. Such attacks includethe politicization of President Roh’s corruption investigations and suicide.Mexico made the transition to democracy in the early 20
th
century, much earlier thanSouth Korea. However, as the revolutionaries grouped together to form a single political party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), politics in Mexico was completelydominated by PRI from the beginning of democracy up to the 1990s. Throughout these years,PRI maintained its power through electoral fraud, coercion and clientism. Eventually PRI setup an independent body for elections monitory (IFE: Federal Electoral Institute) to assure the public of fairer elections, in part due to its over-confidence of remaining in power 
5
. Coupledwith the growth of opposition parties and the public’s gradual unhappiness over Mexico’seconomic performance while under PRI, the opposition has won elections in recent years.Thus after 70 years of competitive authoritarianism, Mexico has a more level playing fieldfor its main political parties, though corruption and the use of coercion during elections stillexist in Mexico. Furthermore, drug cartels throughout the country, with their extensive reachinto civil society and various levels of the government, pose a threat to the stability of thedemocracy
6
.
3
Halm,
South Korea’s Miraculous Democracy,
p. 140
4
Halm,
South Korea’s Miraculous Democracy,
 p. 131
5
Magaloni,
The Demise of Mexico’s One-party Dominant Regime,
 p. 136
6
Gonzalez,
 Mexico’s Drug Wars Get Brutal,
 p. 73
 
 Nigeria, like South Korea, has a long history of militarism. Military regimes in Nigeria were punctuated with short-lived democracies. Currently, it is a democracy: the 4
th
Republic founded in 1999. The president, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, has made headway withdemocratization with the neutralization of the military. However, his party (People’sDemocratic Party) dominates the government and there is systematic and widespreadelectoral fraud. This is in contrast to Mexico, which suffers from less pervasive fraud.Furthermore, Nigeria is a neopatrimonial state, with the presence of ‘godfathersandextensive patronage networks throughout the country
7
. It is thus not surprising that corruptionis rampant in Nigeria, with billions of dollars from oil revenues lost from corruption. Thisleads to extreme poverty, triggering violent protests. Examples are the protests in the Niger delta, which threatens to sabotage oil companies there if they do not gain a share of therevenue
8
. Furthermore, the ethnic division and tension in Nigeria creates more instability inthe country.Russia has adopted democratic institutions as well, since the collapse of the SovietUnion. However, the democratic regime led by President Yeltsin suffered from severeeconomic problems (hyperinflation and rising unemployment) due to the partial reformsimplemented. The economic collapse led to the increased influence of the rich ‘oligarchs’ aswell as the Russians’ tarnished impression of democracy. The government under Yeltsin wasalso plagued with corruption along with ineffectiveness due to the numerous political parties(up to thousands) at that time. This paved the way for Putin to consolidate his power. Sincethen, there has been a drastic increase in electoral coercion which resulted in the dominanceof Putin and his party in the government. Putin further centralized power by removinggovernor elections in 2004
9
. The strict control of media, as well as the harsh crackdown on
7
Ikpe,
The Patrimonial state and Inter-ethnic conflicts in Nigeria,
 p. 692
8
Junger,
 Blood Oil,
 p.3
9
McFaul and Stoner-Weiss,
The Myth of the Authoritarian Model,
 p. 71

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->