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Article

Support for Democracy  

Robert Mattes

With the worldwide wave of democratization, scholars interested in the preservation of the new democracies dusted off old theories of regime maintenance. While commonly sharing the assumption that democracy requires democrats, researchers proceeded in different directions, depending on their image of the ideal democrat. Today, we know a great deal about who supports democracy, and why. However, the state of our knowledge is incomplete at the point where it matters the most. As might be expected in any emerging area of research, different sets of scholars based their research instruments on contrasting understandings of what it means to be a democrat, and how democrats are best identified and measured. More importantly, they proceeded from differing understandings and underspecified theories as to why democrats are important, how many are needed, and how they actually affect the level and stability of democracy. Thus, while the intuition that democracy requires democrats is strong, the actual state of the evidence is still mixed, at best.

Article

South Korea: The Journey Toward Civilian and Democratic Control Over the Military  

Carl J. Saxer

Many have seen the establishment of civilian and democratic control over the military as a necessary, although not sufficient, condition for the consolidation of a nascent democracy. The establishment of civilian and democratic control over the military in South Korea was a long and, some would argue, uncompleted process. A coup in 1961 led by Park Chung-hee, a major-general, led to the establishment of an authoritarian regime that, while going civilian, was based on the control of the military and the intelligence services. Park was assassinated by the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency in October 1979; however, the hopes of moving in the direction of democracy were soon squashed when Chun Doo-hwan, and his comrades in arms from the secret Hanahoe (One Mind) club of Korean Military Academy graduates, first took power over the military through an internal coup, and then took control over the government. Under significant internal, and external, pressure Chun Doo-hwan agreed to step down from the presidency in 1987 and allow the writing of a new constitution that led to free elections to the presidency in December 1987. The opposition lost the 1987 election due to its inability to agree upon a united candidate. The winner was Roh Tae-woo, a participant in the 1979–1990 coup, who would during his presidency take important steps when it came to establishing civilian control over the military. However, it was first with the inauguration of the Kim Young-sam in 1993 that the establishment of firm civilian control was achieved. He engaged in a significant reorganization of, and moved against the power of the secret societies within, the army. He also promoted the idea of a politically neutral military. This most likely played a significant role when Kim Dae-jung, the first opposition candidate, won the presidency in December 1997, as the military remained neutral and accepted the outcome of the electoral process. There has since been a strengthening of civilian control over the military in South Korea. However, there are a number of important issues that need to be dealt with in order to ensure full democratic control over the military and the intelligence services. While the military, as an institution, has stayed neutral in politics, military and intelligence resources have been used in attempts at influencing public opinion in the lead-up to elections. In addition, comprehensive oversight by the legislature continues to be weak and the National Security Law remains on the books.

Article

The Impact of Constitutional Courts in Asia  

Chien-Chih Lin

Courts around the world have become more and more influential, and Asian courts are no exception. The effects of Asian constitutional courts span all political, social, and economic areas and fall into five main categories: (1) consolidating democracies, (2) exacerbating political chaos, (3) perpetuating authoritarianism, (4) facilitating economic development, and (5) spurring social change. Politically, constitutional courts in many Asian countries have helped consolidate fledgling democracies by entrenching constitutional principles, by facilitating the disbandment of unconstitutional parties, by promoting a level political playing field, by permitting the impeachment of authoritarian heads of state, and by minimizing religious clashes. Judicial intervention, however, may spawn unwanted results when it fails to hammer out a solution that facilitates constitutional functioning. Worse still, judicial intervention may perpetuate authoritarian reign. Economically, an efficient and independent judiciary usually signals a government’s commitment to property protection, which is a foundation of economic development, including foreign investment. This principle, interestingly enough, applies to autocracies as well as to democracies. Socially, judicial decisions may either spearhead social change or plant the seeds of future progress. Indeed, decisions unfavorable to petitioners can trigger, in ordinary people, a profound awareness of rights, resulting in even more litigation. Notably, these five types of effects are not necessarily mutually exclusive and are, in some scenarios, complementary. For example, a capable court may simultaneously facilitate economic development and undergird dictatorships. Furthermore, these effects are a function of three interdependent factors: the scope of judicial powers, the degree of judicial activism, and the response of audiences. Other things being equal, the more powerful and active a court is, the more likely its decisions will be able to generate repercussions, thereby strengthening the judiciary. To be sure, other things are not always equal in reality, and these factors are endogenous to a considerable extent. Moreover, the effects of constitutional courts do not remain constant, as political environments in which they are embedded are volatile. Therefore, the relationships between the five judicial effects and the three interdependent factors are rather dynamic. Although constitutional courts in Asia have become much more influential in general since the 1990s, the growth in their judicial effects has not necessarily been a blessing. Sometimes when the decisions of Asian courts have crossed lines that politicians deem inviolable, the courts have encountered various degrees of political revenge. To navigate the storms of political retaliation provoked by controversial judicial decisions, many constitutional courts—particularly those in democratizing Asian states—must steer a middle path between obedience and recalcitrance.

Article

The Control-Effectiveness Framework of Civil–Military Relations  

Florina Cristiana Matei and Carolyn Halladay

Civil–military relations—particularly the principles and practices of civilian control of the security sector—have changed significantly since the 1990s as more and more states around the world seek to consolidate democracy. The scholarly focus and the policy that it informs remain stuck in a mid-20th-century model, however. While civilian control remains central, this civilian oversight must, itself, uphold the requirements of democratic governance, ensuring that the uniformed forces are well integrated into the democracy that they are sworn to protect. Moreover, this democratic civilian control also must ensure the effectiveness of the security sector in the sense that soldiers, law enforcement officials, and intelligence agencies can fulfill the range of their missions. Thus, democratic civilian control requires ongoing attention from both the civilian and the military sides.

Article

Political Parties and Democratization  

John Ishiyama

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.