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POLI 212 - APRIL 16.docx

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Political Science
POLI 212
Hudson Meadwell

APRIL 16, 2012:  Bova reading:  Change began within the elite, society is politicized. Once civil society is politicized you move into a phase of democratic transition, and the question becomes whether those who have initiated change will be able to control the changes they introduced. Then you see polarization within the elite- depending on politics of this situation (hardliners vs. softliners).  Will democratic transition become politically consolidated?  This is a process initiated by individuals interested in reform to the soviet party state, not fundamental change.  The opening (stage one): not a commitment or interest in democratization, but a commitment to liberalization. The elite wanted to place limits on the power of the soviet state, they want increased civil liberties. It included expanding the freedom of political expression and association for individuals. It included easing restriction on travel outside the soviet union and made emigration easier. This liberal opening also involved increased tolerance for religious diversity. Even as these changes are introduced, they are reforms controlled from above and are subject to rollback/changes at any time. Liberalization is different from democratization. Possibility of replacement w/ competitive elections, etc. this is what Siaroff calls minimal democracy or what Kesselman and Kreiger call procedural democracy.  They are willing to entertain liberalization. A split in the regime occurs between reformists and conservatives, and once that slit is confirmed in the elite there are incentives for reforms to seek support outside of the ruling elite. When appeals for support outside of the elite become visible/direct/public, you move into a different phase of political change- democratization. What actors are doing is politicizing civil society in order to improve their competitive condition in the elite.  “You keep up the pressure, we will press from the top, and you keep pressing from the bottom. Only in this way will change proceed.” –Gorbachev  this will harden the position between hard liners and soft liners, b/c reforms are signalling their willingness to polarize the political centre to win the battle within the elite.  Then the question becomes whether or not the political centre will hold. In the early stages of reform, soft liners have an advantage because opposition to them is not yet well organized. But over time, it becomes more possible to think about direct changes to the political regime:  Reform can go wrong at this point 1) if hardliners are successful in their pushback and can roll back the reform (they are interested in change if it is only cosmetic). 2) if associations are empowered by the politicization of society, and it become much more difficult to control the reform. The reforming elite now has a state in change  Eventually, the reform factio
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