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The Importing Democracy Blog

Emerging Voices: On NGOs and Democratization

Earlier this summer, Julie Fisher appeared as a guest blogger for The Council on Foreign Relations. The following post appeared on their blog on August 8.  Although democracy brings no guarantees, there is growing global awareness that repressive systems of government are incapable of implementing the socioeconomic and environmental changes essential for the survival of humanity. Fortunately, frustrated citizens around the world are taking to the streets and demanding more honest, accountable, and democratic governance.

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The Democratization Triangle

Democratization is a long, hard slog and it doesn’t happen in the same way in different places, as Roger Hardy of BBC News recently pointed out. Are there any ideas out there that could accelerate the process? Hardy himself observes that “people power is not enough.” So what else is needed?

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Turkey: It’s All About Accountability

This week’s events in Turkey show that local issues can have a dramatic influence on national politics.  What started as a protest against top-down plans to replace a small park adjoining Taksim Square in Istanbul has become a grassroots movement spreading across the country.  In all, there have been protests in 67 cities and towns, including Ankara, Eskiesehir, Adana and Antalya.

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Democratization NGOs and Loyal Opposition

This blog entry first appeared in the blog of the Council on Foreign Relations entitled “Emerging Voices” on March 13, 2013. In a classic study written over forty years ago, Ghita Ionescu, a political scientist, and Isabel de Madariaga, a historian, described loyal opposition as “the most advanced and institutionalized form of political conflict.” Loyal opposition unites support for a democratic constitution and political system with opposition to a particular political regime.

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Dictatorship to Democracy: Two Complementary Points of View

Some weeks ago I read The Dictator’s Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy, by William J. Dobson. As I now await page proofs of my own book, I am convinced that Dobson’s book and mine are strangely complementary and that his book rounds out my own intellectual journey. And I can’t help wondering if Dobson would have the same reaction were he to read my manuscript.

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After the Arab Spring

During the last three decades of the 20thCentury the number of democracies in the world almost doubled, from 44 to 86, according to Freedom House, a New York City think tank that researches and tracks democracy. This dramatic global trend coincided with and was reinforced by a global associational revolution, as thousands of NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) emerged in Asia, Latin America and Africa, even before the spread of the Internet. In the first decade of the new century, however, the number of democracies (87) barely increased at all.

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