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Running head: Democracies & Dictatorship

Discussion: Protest Movements Do Not Lead To Democratisation

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Democracy, as people know it currently is a recent phenomenon. Democratisation is amongst
the most important trends and concepts in modern political science (Kaleteur, 2012).
Democratisation has become an important topic in todays arena, as the lines are blur between
the things that lead to democratisation and that do not.

The aim of the paper is to make discussion on the argument Protest Movements Do Not
Lead to Democratisation. However, before digging into the discussion, it is essential that
the real concept of democracy is understood. Democracy refers to the equality of human
beings and considers them as morally independent agents. The purpose of democracy in
political term is to bring equality in politics. This means that all people present in the political
community must be involved in the process of decision-making and the participation should
be on equality basis (Engstrm and Engstrom, 2008).

Discussion on the argument

Protest Movements Do Not Lead To Democratisation

Democratisation includes the concept of participation and civil society has been an important
aspect in contributing to democratisation. Civil society includes both informal and formal
networks, political advocacy groups, and traditional and modern associations. These
organisations monitor the activities of elites and government, offer valuable information,
raise the attention of the government and people towards specific issues, and assists
governments in serval matters. The civil society plays an immense role in bringing equality
and protecting the human rights of minor people (Cheema, 2011).

Through protesting, civil society forces the government to put attention on important issues
that have not been considered before. Protests play important role in democratisation and
bring a rise in activism that leads countries towards the development of the country and
lifestyle. It has been determined that the number of the activist organisation is growing and
therefore, the strength of protests is improving as well (Porvank, 2016). Protests do play
role in democracy and successful protests lead to make important adjustments.

The assistance from civil society has been an important aspect of protests and in guiding
governments and bringing democratisation. History also defined the role protests played in
bringing democratisation. For example, in East Germany, the law was introduced in which
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artists and painters were restricted to paint freely. The law stated that people could not form
an independent organisation and also dictated the things to write. In result of such regimes,
the workers of the eastern German, protested against the regime. The German activist
organisation and protestant group organisation several series of marches; however, in the
result of these protests, the regime was ended and the restriction reached to the end. Due to
the protests, it became possible to speak freely and to organise any activity in the region
(Applebaum, 2015).

However, in all cases, it is not true that protests lead to democratisation. Most often, it has
been realised that activist organisations conduct protests for their own benefits that not
necessarily benefit the nation and may lead towards bad political and economic situation. The
examples of protests that have led governments and countries towards bad situations should
be therefore considered. The best example of such protests that do not lead to democratisation
include the recent events in Ukraine and Egypt. Both Ukraine and Egypt experienced
dramatic moments of protests. In 2011, the first protest outset Hosni Mubarak who was a
longtime strongman. However, the second protest movement occurred in 2013 that resulted in
the removal of Hosni Mubarak. In Ukraine, the protest occurred during 2004 to 2005 that did
not allow Viktor Yanukovych to win the election through a fraudulent election. Nevertheless,
he won the presidency in 2010, but in the result of another protest movement that took place
in 2013, forced Viktor Yanukovych to flee the state in 2014. It has been determined that most
of the time in history, in the result of protests countries had to face autocracies. It is not clear
yet that protests always lead to democratisation, as a historical protest movement has shown
that protests often do not lead to democratisation. The history defined that most of the time;
protests often support anti-democratic laws (Howard and Walters, 2015).

In economic breakdown or crisis, it is most probable that the protests will occur; in a crisis
situation, the occurrence of protests rather promoting democratisation, lead countries towards
the rise of dissatisfaction within society for the prevailing governments and in particular for
authorities. Such situations support parties that are in opposition to conduct more protests.
Protests also offer the opportunity to opposition and civilians to go against the regime. Hence,
most of the time, civilians are able to affect the decisions that are not in the favour of the
whole community, but their own (Brancati, 2016). The argument that the protests do not lead
to democratisation is also supported by other researchers. Marchetti and Tocci (2009) in their
research examined the relationship between the protests and democratisation. They also
found that it is not essential that the protest movements and civil society lead countries
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towards the democratisation, but the outcome can be worst and contribute to huge conflicts in
such states that are non-liberal (Marchetti and Tocci, 2009).

The most recent example of a protest that has led the country towards the worst situation can
be observed through Syria. In Syria, approximately more than 250000 people have lost their
lives in four years. The situation started from the anti-government protests and led the
country towards the civil war. In 2011, the prodemocracy protests took place and Protestants
were demanding the resignation from President Assad. The violence escalated in 2012 and by
the June 2013 in Aleppo approximately 90000 people had been killed in the conflict. The
protest just not led the country towards the conflicts, but the conflict now had become the
battle (The BBC, 2016).

The overall analysis revealed that the concepts regarding the usefulness of protests in
bringing democracy are a blur. Some researchers concluded the positive association of
protests with democracy and some communicated negative impact of protests towards
democracy in the result of rising conflicts. Hence, it has become essential to determine the
reason behind the diverse results. Protests can be defined into two movements that include
non-violent and violent moments. The protests that are not violent and peaceful have a
positive impact on democracy, as such sorts of protests provide a guideline to the
government. Non-violent protests in liberalised nations, assist the actions of government and
allow them to pay attention to the issues that have not be considered by the government if the
country through shedding light on those issues. In the liberalised countries, non-violent acts
are more likely to produce democratic progress. Multiple authoritarian countries made the
transition towards democracy due to the occurrence of non-violent protests. The states started
liberalising that raised the hope of further change, but if their hopes are not fulfilled then the
instability occurs in the process of democracy. The non-violent protests are more likely to
arise in the regions that have already started to liberalise.

According to Kalandadze and Orenstein (2009) in their study examined that electoral
revolution that ends without any protests so not make a significant impact or make less
impact on the progress of democracy. However, electoral revolutions that arise from the
protests that are conducted to fight for the rights of civilians is mostly going to be
problematic rather providing long-term solutions. It has been determined that the biggest and
violent protests are more likely to create conflicts and may not lead to the resolution of the
issue. It has been realised that the success rate of non-violent protests is higher with 53
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percent; however, the rate of success of violent acts is only 26 percent. The non-violent
protest campaigns create legitimacy that generates the broader participation and strengthens
the movement. Justifying the utilisation of violence is not easy for governments; hence, the
violent protests do not force the government to make concessions, but such violent protests
force the government to repress them. The reason behind the success of nonviolent protests is
that the governments are more sympathetic towards the non-violent protests as compared to
the violent protests (Chenoweth & Stephans, 2008; Celestino, 2013).

The core purpose of the paper has been to discuss the argument Protest Movements Do Not
Lead to Democratisation. For the assessment of the worth of the argument, the impact of
protests on democracy has been determined. It has been realised that the positive and
negative role of protests in a democracy depends on the type of protests that either they are
violent or non-violent. It is realised that the history showed several events of protest that
could not lead to democratisation and rather led the countries towards conflicts. The analysis
clearly revealed that violent protests were not appreciated in history and led towards conflict
creation and therefore worst results. However, the researchers that defended the positive role
of protests on democracy or the protests that led to democratisation showed that the protests
were not violent. Hence, it is concluded that the protests cannot lead towards democratisation
if they are violent, as such protests are not appreciated by governments and elites.
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Applebaum, A. (2015) The Leninist roots of civil society repression, Journal of Democracy,
26(4), pp. 2127. Doi: 10.1353/jod.2015.0068.

Cheema, G.S. (2011) Engaging Civil Society to Promote Democratic Local Governance:
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Elestino, M. R., and K. S. Gleditsch. 2013 Fresh Carnations or All Thorn, No Rose?
Nonviolent Campaigns and Transitions in Autocraciesm, Journal of Peace Research, 50(3),
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Engstrm, J. and Engstrom, J. (2008) Democratisation and the prevention of violent conflict:
Lessons learned from Bulgaria and Macedonia. Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing.

Howard, M.M. and Walters, M.R. (2015) Mass Mobilization and the Democracy
Bias, Middle East Policy, 2(xxi), pp. 145155.

Kaieteur News (2012) The importance of democratisation. Available at:
(Accessed: 1 November 2016).

Marchetti, R. and Tocci, N. (2009) Conflict society: Understanding the role of civil society
in conflict, Global Change, Peace & Security, 21(2), pp. 201217.

Porvank, D. (2016) The Euromaidan and the changes in Ukrainian civil society. Available
ociety.pdf (Accessed: 1 November 2016).

Stephan, Maria J, and Erica Chenoweth. 2008 Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic
Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, International Security, 33(1), pp. 744

Kalandadze, Katya, and Mitchell A Orenstein. 2009. Electoral Protests and

Democratisation. Comparative Political Studies 42(11): 14031425

The BBC (2016) Syria: The story of the conflict. Available at: (Accessed: 1 November 2016).

Brancati, D. (2016) Democracy Protests. New York: Cambridge University Press.