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Article

Gizem Arikan and Pazit Ben-Nun Bloom

In research on religiosity and support for democratic norms, two major debates stand out: The first concerns whether some religious traditions, such as Islam or Orthodox Christianity, are inherently undemocratic, and hence whether supporters of these traditions have antidemocratic orientations. The second debate is about whether religious orientations beyond religious identification foster or hinder support for democratic norms. Both debates may be resolved by conceptualizing both individual religiosity and support for democratic norms as multidimensional orientations. At the individual level, religiosity consists of belief, behavior, and belonging dimensions. Support for democratic norms consist of overt approval of democracy as the ideal system of governing the country and intrinsic support, which refers to an understanding of democracy as being primarily associated with liberal-democratic norms and institutions such as popular sovereignty, political equality, civil rights, and free elections. Religious belief is negatively associated with over support, and religious social behavior is positively associated with overt support. Yet, there is some evidence that the effect of religious social behavior on intrinsic support for democracy may not be positive. Recent scholarship is also interested in identifying the psychological mechanisms through which different religiosity dimensions affect support for democratic norms, as well as establishing the causal effects of religiosity dimensions by experimentally manipulating different facets of religiosity. Although the multidimensional approach to religiosity provides a general framework that explains the effect of religiosity on support for democratic norms, there is still substantive variation across time and different contexts to be explained. Avenues exist for future research in terms of theorizing and identifying the moderating effects of different factors, most obviously the religious context and the influence of religious elites and social networks.

Article

Eboe Hutchful, Humphrey Asamoah Agyekum, and Ben Kunbour

With the end of the Cold War and onset of democratization, the academic field of “civil–military relations” (CMR) has arguably gone into relative decline, replaced by the new global template of “Security Sector Reform and Governance” (SSR/G). This is a notable shift in several senses: firstly, from a narrow focus on the military (and coups in particular) to the “security sector” as a whole; and secondly because the two “fields” have been driven by different imperatives, priorities, and methodologies, in part shaped by changing historical contexts. In contrast to the CMR scholarship, SSR/G has been much more of a “policy and operational science” than an academic discipline, primarily oriented toward norm development and formal institution building in response to imperatives of democratization. This “policy praxis”—driven by sovereign actors and often delivered by consultants and private contractors with a primarily technical focus—has not always prioritized evidence-based research or interrogated real power dynamics. And while the nation-state remains the core actor, external powers (bilateral partners and international and multilateral institutions) have emerged as a critical supporting cast in SSR/G, evolving their own normative and policy frameworks and providing the financial resources to drive reforms (paradoxically, these are usually the same powers that conduct humanitarian interventions and extend security assistance to contain the proliferation of terrorist attacks in the region). Nevertheless, there are strong linear links between the two “disciplines,” as CMR legacies have shaped the SSR discourse and agenda. An offshoot of the SSR focus has been the implementation of practical programs to address some of the weaknesses of the defence sector exposed in the CMR literature, evident in a set of technical and “how to” tools, such as defence reviews, security sector public expenditure reviews, the “Defence Anti-Corruption Index” (pioneered by Transparency International), and a variety of “toolkits” designed to enhance military professionalism and strengthen civilian oversight bodies and institutions. Academic research has also reflected this shift by broadening out from the analysis of the military and coups to encompass other agencies in the formal security sector (police and intelligence in particular), as well as looking much more closely at nonstate security and justice providers and their interaction with state security institutions and actors, through the prism of concepts such as “hybridity” and “hybrid security governance.” Even so, militaries per se have never strayed far from the center of the discussion. Militaries have not only remained the focal point of SSR efforts—in the process even acquiring new roles and missions and (undoubtedly) sources of influence—they have even been propelled back to center stage, as the security landscape has shifted and African states and armies (particularly in the Sahel) have struggled against a growing proliferation of armed groups and terrorist attacks, and as coups have threatened to make a comeback. However, both the theory and practice of these African transitions defy neat delineations and linear interpretations. Their many commonalities notwithstanding, these transitions have been multifaceted, ambiguous, and contested, as well as fragile and subject to reversal, nowhere more so than in the CMR arena. Nevertheless, three elements stand out: 1. A growing trend over time toward “illiberal democracies,” as a variety of African leaders have made willful efforts to hollow out democracy, cultivating or (over time) perfecting the tools to evade or erode the strictures of democracy, an activity in which security forces are increasingly implicated. 2. A consensus in both the academic and policy literature about the fragile foundations of CMR in these transitions, which have been replete with “democratic deficits” and operational weaknesses, addressed only selectively by SSR, and likely to be further aggravated by the trends toward “soft authoritarianism” in the region. 3. Importantly, democratization in the region has coincided with (if not spawned) a proliferation of terroristic activity and new forms of armed conflict which African states have been unable to contain, triggering “humanitarian interventions” and security assistance from a variety of external actors. This has been dubbed the new “global militarism,” accompanied by a reorientation (rollback) of SSR in favor of “hard security” and operational capacity building (“Train and Equip”).

Article

Since its maiden coup in 1978, which initiated both an era of recurrent coup activity and a regime type dubbed “Mauritania of the Colonels,” the Mauritanian military, once an unassuming, apolitical institution, has been in power either directly or through a “civilianized” military regime. Since its creation in the early 1990s, the Battalion for Presidential Security (BASEP) has played a prominent role in the workings of Mauritania of the Colonels. Only during a 17-month interlude under a civilian democratically elected president, following a bungled transition marked by the underhanded interference of some military officers, did the military formally leave power—and then only formally. Whether they tried to meet them in earnest or not, the challenges of withdrawing the military from the political arena and democratizing the country have dogged all military heads of state. The challenges were complicated by Mauritania’s intractable ethnocultural rivalries subsumed under the “national question” and the related “human rights deficit.” After Colonel Ould Taya, whose lengthy and repressive regime had the deepest impact on the country and the national question in particular, the challenges were even harder for his successors to face. The latest transfer of power between one retired general and another, both of whom had conspired to overthrow Mauritania’s only democratically elected civilian president, is evidence that, as major players, Mauritania’s military leaders are well on their way to institutionalizing the Mauritania of the Colonels they assiduously fashioned for more than 40 years.

Article

Parties are indispensable to the building and maintenance of democracy. This is because parties are purported to promote representation, conflict management, integration, and accountability in new democracies. Second, the failures of parties in helping to build democracy in systems in transition are because they have not performed these functions very well. Third, there are three emerging research agendas to be explored that address the relationship between parties and democratic consolidation: (a) the promotion of institutional innovations that help build institutionalized party systems; (b) the role of ethnic parties in democratization and democratic consolidation; and (c) the role of rebel parties in building peace and democracy after civil wars. Although not entirely exhaustive, these three agendas represent promising avenues of research into the role political parties play in democratization.

Article

Matteo Bonomi and Milica Uvalic

Serbia is negotiating European Union (EU) membership, a process that started in 2014 after the Brussels-mediated agreement between Kosovo and Serbia was signed in April 2013. Although the Federal Republic (FR) of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) was officially included into the EU’s Stabilization and Association Process soon after the fall of the Milošević regime in October 2000, complex political issues have prevented its faster progress toward the EU. EU measures after 2001 in the areas of financial assistance, trade, and legal harmonization have sustained in a major way the country’s political and economic reforms, facilitating fast economic integration with the EU economy, financial and banking integration, the adoption of many laws in conformity with the acquis communuataire, new business opportunities, and increasing foreign direct investment. However, the Serbia–EU integration process has also been accompanied by strict political conditionality that has greatly delayed the establishment of contractual relations. Despite major efforts of various governments to comply with EU conditions, it was only in late April 2008 that Serbia concluded a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU, which has paved the way for obtaining candidate status in 2012 and the opening of EU accession negotiations in 2014. In the meantime, EU’s enlargement negotiations framework has been strengthened further, making the negotiation talks much more complex and demanding. In addition to Serbia’s insufficient compliance with accession criteria, particularly reforms of the judiciary and public administration, the contested issue of Kosovo’s independence continues to pose a major threat to Serbia’s entry into the EU. Despite the absence of a common position on the part of the EU, given that Kosovo has still not been recognized by five EU member states, the limited progress in the Belgrade–Priština EU-facilitated dialogue represents one of the major obstacles for Serbia’s EU membership. Serbia’s entry into the EU, which could possibly take place in 2025, is likely to bring many benefits to the country and its population, but also to the EU, as this is a region of not only risks but also opportunities.