POL 112 Notes Articles
A Surge to the Center: M.Shifter
Latin America (LA) settling into the middle of the left right political spectrum
Trying to grow practical and realistic solutions to serious economic and social problems,
approach to politics to go towards democratic ideas.
LA countries are troubled and filled with weak political institutions, in adequate judicial
systems, non-changing levels of inequality, and rampant organized crime and citizen
The young are discontent with the political system at the moment and demand for the end of
corruption. They are also aware of the practice of cronyism. Regional political leaders have
been warned to go towards and embrace more centrist politics and meet higher standards and
expectations for effective and responsive political leadership.
Overall LA has moved towards the central part of the political spectrum. Some have moved
to the left
Many studies show that the countries in LA are moving towards centrist and have become
more throughout the region in recent years.
Said to be due to fundamental changes along a number critical dimensions.
During the economic crisis, LA countries were not hit that hard compared to those tied to the
US’s economy (like Mexico). Endured the global economic strains.
Due to Improved macroeconomic policies and making economic connections with
other countries (like China). Most LA country’s economy expected to rise in later
Poverty levels have decreased and inequality amongst the different classes too (because of
social policies like condition cash transfer, that have been put into action). There is a big
middle class which is known to be a major part in the transition to demo or demo
Key Players Move to the Middle
Brazil’s electron in 2010, The outgoing picked a successor (Dilma Rousseff) which was later
selected since Luiz Inacio “Lula” (previous president) helped the country decrease poverty
and inequality. The people of Brazil thought the successor would do the same for the
country. There is slow productivity, deficient infrastructure and low quality education but the
country’s progress has been impressive.
Columbian election of 2010, Juan Manuel Santos won. In his presidency he was able to make
an agreement with a problematic Chavez in a more diplomatic and institutional approach
than the one that Uribe (other popular candidate in election) favoured.
Chile elected a more conservative leader rather than the usual center left. The president
increased ties with Bolivia (there was a tense relationship before).
Peru was able to decrease poverty and inequality rates, has increased economy due to trade
and exports. Middle class growing which helps in long-term democratic prospects. Many
internal factors have prohibited the country from moving forward like ethnic, class,
However, politically economic advances have not been joined by any high degree of
political institutionalization and predictability. There is little citizen confidence in
political leaders and political institutions are the lowered in the region.
Page 1 of 15 Voters are still discontent with factors like corruption, public insecurity and the slow
steps towards equality. For the election in 2011.
What about the Supposed Left Turn?
There were reports of a left turn in LA, since many of the countries elected leaders which
were leftists. These countries became more independent politically from other countries (like
Tendency of leftism strongly shaped by pragmatism....?
The most moderate amount the so called leftist countries have proven to be the most
successful. They blend economic progress, social-equality gains and democratic governance.
(for example Brazil)
Leftists governments that have based themselves on autocratic concentration of power into
the hands of a single person, and not on democratic give-and-take have failed in LA.
For example, Venezuela (Hugo): growing dissatisfaction with the governments
performance in dealing with the deterioration of economic and security situation that
affect the poorest sectors the most.
Cannot generalize all leftist into this category, since there are distinctions amongst them.
Chavez and his oil run country for example.
Leaders that “triggered” the shift to the left might not have been elected into the position.
There has been a modification, refinement and expansion of ideas that have been put into
practice by “leftist” governments
South American countries are becoming more and more independence from the US and
increasing their ties with China. Central American and Caribbean countries and Mexico are
increasing ties with US though.
El Salvador president Funes has pursued free-market policies that are distinguished from
those of his predecessors by a greater emphasis on poverty-alleviation strategies. Foreign
policies are also more centric
Panama’s new leader (Ricardo Martinelli) was able to portray himself as an outsider getting
the majority vote. After getting voted into office, he continued in the old leaders footsteps
resulting in the county’s economic boom.
Countries like Dominican Republic and Mexico show their centrist governing my
implementing policies that reduce poverty and mediating conflicts amongst countries like
Colombia and Venezuela.
Mexico. Central America and Caribbean for the most part appear to share south America’s
growing penchant for pragmatic centrism.
Signs of Unease
young voters, in countries with bigger middle class, want open gov and better steps towards a
better governing system.
In Chile young voters, many voted for the candidate that was neither center left or center
right. Better economic and political performers are looking for more open and competitive
In Columbia, voters almost elected a leader that showed the people were tired of the old
Page 2 of 15 Brazil election of 2010 showed Lula that the people of the country were troubled by the
recent corruption scandals. Young voters were the main reason the message got accorss since
the opposition tried to appeal to them.
The region of LA will generally move towards a more pragmatic, centrist political system.
The links that have been created with the res of the world will strengthen and grow allowing
for economic growth. Middle class will continue to rise and mainly in countries like Brazil.
Ability to decrease poverty and inequality, crime and unemployment will gradually increase.
LA will not grow without problems but gradually.
Counterrevolution in Kiev: Menon and Motyl
Hope Fades for Ukraine
President Viktor Yanukovych failed to deliver many promises as he was running for
president. For example, economic reform, increased prosperity and ending corruption. He has
rolled back Democracy and the Rule of Law, increased regional, political and linguistic
divisions in Ukraine. Also sent his competitor Tymoshenko (a democratic politician) on trial
for absurd charges laid against her.
Yanukovych’s gov is losing the trust of its people who blame them for their poverty and
alienation internationally and within the country itself. After the Orange revolution, the
country began to deteriorate.
If Yanukovych makes dramatic changes to political and economic reforms Ukraine’s crisis
will continue for years to come.
Country is strategically placed between the EU and Russia. Can also help mend ties between
the west and Russia if Ukraine becomes stable. Allows for the European economy to stabilize
East Side Boys
Yanukovych reversed many of the former Orange government president Yushchenko’s
policies put into place to move the country into a stable position
1. Replaced moderately pro-western foreign policy with a decidedly pro-Russian
2. Turned democratic ambitions to authoritarianism. Government was controlled by his
party, the courts were under his rule and put more power into his own hands.
3. Reversed the pro-Ukrainian cultural initiatives by appointing an anti-Ukrainian
official as minister of education and science which prevented the preservation of the
country’s culture and language.
People of the country (pro democratic and others too) were angry at what he was doing to
the country and how his promised policies were not being created.
Yanukovych was raised in a pro soviet environment as where his party was created.
Yanukovych administration flaws:
1. Yanukovych and his ministers were only provincial leaders before they came into
power thus they have little to no experience in running a state. For example, as they
put Tymoshenko to trial when her popularity was declining as it was. Once they took
her to court the people of Ukraine and countries like Russia saw Ukraine for what it
was and that increased her popularity as a Politian.
2. Not being able to implement much needed economic reforms. Resulting inpoverty
and inflation in the country.
Page 3 of 15 Unrest amongst many people through social media and groups and might be able to
demonstrate the power of the orange revolution again.
Stuck in the Middle with You
Ukraine making a free trade agreement with the EU which would allow for a positive move
towards stability and demo. However, it seems this is being done to increase Yanukovych’s
popularity and restore trust back into the gov.
Yanukovych wants to be the president that allowed for steps towards being in the EU while
also being on good terms with Russia (who are not showing that same loyalty back) There
are still high gas prices and Russia wants to be in control of Ukraine’s pipeline network to
show them any kind of loyalty.
Yanukovych wants to going the EU and the CU whereas Russia wants Ukraine to pick
between the two. However Yanukovych is looking more towards finalizing the deal with EU
Russia fears that the pipeline network share that they receive will decline as Ukraine deals
with the EU.
Also even though denying NATO, Kiev still in involved with them.
Russia might try to stall the deal, make other countries in the EU delay it, increase the gas
prices. In the end, there might be a crisis between Russia and Ukraine if the deal goes
The Soccer War
Yanukovych has to end the authoritarian rule and the anti-Ukrainian culture policy for the
country reestablish productive relations with the US and EU. To do this free media and open
political competition would have to be allowed as well
He would be forced to become more demo -more for his own political survival.
The trial that was conducted has given Yanukovych a bad image and would not allow for
other countries to be convinced that he is moving towards a more demo governing style.
The free trade policy is more about getting Ukraine to change its ways and to help the people
resist the authoritarian rule. Also to help turn Russia into a democratic nation
2012 UEFA tournament would likely be used for protests and the world will see how
Yanukovych approaches the situation. Also the elections as well where people might take to
the streets to see that a fair election is held.
The Coming Wave: Diamond 2012
New democratic wave will being in East Asia (EA)
Most think that the Middle East is where the next boom will be however, East Asia is where
there will be an increase in the number of liberal and sustainable demos.
40% of EA are democracies unlike Middle East. But still the percentage in lower then Latin
America and Eastern Europe. Countries like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are liberal
democracies and Timor, Indonesia, Mongolia and Philippines are electoral demos
Happening in the 5 year period where there has been a global demo recession, Thailand,
Singapore, Malaysia are all taking steps to demo whereas China is becoming authoritarian
which might result in an opportunity for a demo change in years to come.
Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all rank as liberal demos in many studies conducted as well
as surveys where the people of each country value the rule of law, freedom of expression and
Page 4 of 15 judicial independence. There are problems and a they have room to grow by moving towards
controlling corruption and avoiding political favoritism.
Mongolia, Philippines and Indonesia (electoral demos) all have some aspects of liberal demo
however they are struggling with corruption and implementing the rule of law in their
Many people in the three countries believe demo is able to help stabilize their countries even
if the democracies are not fully implemented. The people believe through fair elections the
economy as well as their lively hoods will start to look up.
Prospects for Further Democratization
Singapore is currently the most economically developed nondemocratic country in the
history of the world. However, there is more competition between political parties and the
ruling party is losing its grip on power. Social media, more opposition and the censorship by
the government only add to the possibility of a demo transition. The country is becoming an
“competitive authoritarian” regime meaning that a transition is most likely going to happen.
Malaysia is also ready for a transition to demo (by theory) since its human development has
come to the level of that of other countries when they transitioned. Also economically the
country is doing well. Opposition in the country is also threatening to take over the 50 year
rule of the current party in power. People of the country are more educated as well which
increases the pressure for demo transition. It is said that the most likely way the transition
will happen is through the electoral process. Opposition parties are getting control since the
ruling prime minister Razak recently began to implement reforms. However the peoples trust
in him and his way of ruling have disappeared. Opposition is winning more seats as well as
the new reforms are trying to push for tighter security.
Thailand is less developed then Malaysia but has more democratic experience and more
freedom and pluralism. However as it is an electoral demo, the monarchy is disappearing
and there is threat of a military coup that wants to help the countries polarization and to
create a more mature and securely institutionalised political system. The country is also
developing its education and incomes are increasing. Human development score is like that
of Poland’s as it was transitioning to demo in 1990.
Countries like Burma have also caught wind of the demo trend across the world and the
economic benefits that come with it. Going from an authoritarian regime to a democratic one.
Stopping censorship, legalizing labour unions and freeing political prisoners have been come
of the steps the county has been taking. The authoritarian leaders basically saw the benefit of
integrating with the global economy.
The Coming Change in China
Per capita income of China is increasing and reaching that of certain countries when they
transitioned to demo.
It is predicted that china will become a partly free country by 2015 and later on a totally free
Modernization as well as strengthening ties with Taiwan also increases the chances of a
transition. This is because the Chinese people are able to communicate as well as see through
the Taiwanese television of what is happening (lack of censorship)
Instead of the transition being gradual, Diamond believes that the change will be fast. The
government can easily make decisions and spend money daily but is unable to create reforms
Page 5 of 15 that are long term. The government is afraid that it might turn into the Soviet union and be
China’s inability to adapt may be its downfall since there are already tensions rising due to
the censorship, the corruption, criminality and the constraints on free expression. Many
protests go on already dealing with people who are angry of those factors being suppressed.
There are also social and economic challenges that were created due to the one-child policy
put into place that will help the transition. The education system is at its limit and is
producing more of a workforce than the country can use.
China will have to deal with a huge generation of people going into retirement and are
dealing with another generation that cannot find work in their area of study. Real-estate as
well as the financial market is another problem. Stability in the country will crumble once
these upcoming problems become pronounced.
If the ruling party (CCP- Chinese Communist Party) is unable to or is able to continue
economically developing the country as well as improving the standard of living the CCP
will fall. If it does not the people will lose trust and will move onto another party. If it does
the increasing middle class will want a transition to demo. Screwed either way...
Transition is predicted to happen in 10 years with a threat of military control when CCP falls.
However, it is hoped that the people of China (middle class, educated) will be able to put the
country back on the democratic track.
“China cannot keep moving forward to the per capita income, educational, and informational
levels of a middle-income country without experiencing the pressures for democratic change
that Korea and Taiwan did more than two decades ago. Those pressures are rising palpably
now in Singapore and Malaysia. They will gather momentum in Vietnam as it follows in
China’s path of transformational (even if not quite as rapid) economic development. In
Thailand, continuing modernization over the next decade will change society in ways that
will make democracy easier to sustain. In short, within a generation or so, I think it is
reasonable to expect that most of East Asia will be democratic. And no regional
transformation will have more profound consequences for democratic prospects globally.”
The Global Context: Plattner
Revolts started taking place when it was thought to be a period of decline in democracies
Evidence of a demo decline showed in the 2006 Freedom house survey as well as in 2010
where electoral democracies began to decline as well as the countries labelled as “Free”
began to decline as well.
Also, the nondemocratic countries began to cooperate with each other
Many of the countries like China, Venezuela, and Egypt began to increase their power and
exercise it by repressing any intellectual with ideas that contradicted their own.
In Tunisia 2010 the Jasmine Revolution (started by a farmer who set himself of fire to show
his illegal treatment by the police) sparked protests throughout the Arab world. The Egyptian
leader fell as well as the dictator in Tunisia. The people of the Arab countries were fighting
for a change in government other countries too like Libya.
People talked of a 4 wave of democratization BUT the movements in Egypt and Tunisia had
setbacks which allowed for the leaders to cling to power for a longer period of time. They
were still scared and uneasy of what might happen since the people of their countries were
rising up against them.
Page 6 of 15 Some Preliminary Conclusions
Is what’s happening in the Arab world a new wave of demo? Or is there another trend which
suggests the opposite and is being masked by the protests?
The Arab world is not impervious to the spread of democracy. However it is feared that if an
Arab country was given the choice between a democracy or an islamist run government, they
would choose the latter. This is not proven and as time goes on, this theory can be explained
and confirmed further.
Arab movements invoked the universal principles of human dignity, freedom, democracy. It
showed that liberal democracies have a chance to flourish in the countries just as much as
Tunisia is highlighted to be able to transition to demo very well since there are more changes
for liberal democratic parties to form. If the democratic trend did not travel so fast from the
country, international help might have made the transition faster and made Tunisia a model
democratic Arab nation for the rest of the Arab world too look upon.
However, a poorer, geographically influential and a populous country like Egypt would have
more of an influence on the rest of the Arab worl than Tunisia. It would be more difficult for
them with so many political groups ( The brotherhood for example) and the threat that the
military might take over. Their transition to democracy which is fuelled by the people of
Egypt make researchers optimistic that the country will be able to achieve democracy.
The Monumental Task
In Bahrain, Syria and Yemen, the prospects of creating a stable democratic nation is not as
good as Tunisia or Egypt. There is much lack of power in unity for a common goal, less
power in the hands of the citizens fighting against the government who is killing its people.
Building a demo on top of so much violence, and death is a difficult task
In Lybia, even with their victory in taking down Qadhifi the rebels political leadership (The
Transitional National Council-TNC) is not confirmed to be the best leader in taking over
what is left of the government and if they do, it would be difficult to take control of the
military and to be able to cooperate with them.
Due to many different internal factors that make each country unique, the transitions to
democracy for each country will in its own way happen independently of others. Influences
from other Arab nations might lead another country in a similar part but problems between
different views, ethnicities, religion will ultimately cause each country to work out their own
Arab uprising is being compared to the colour revolutions. There are clear differences such
as when the colour revolutions took place, they were fighting for fair elections and an overall
non-corrupt electoral process where the citizens voted actually were worth something.
A Two-Sided Struggle
The Arab struggle does influence the world balance of democratic and authoritarian regimes.
The Arab world is currently giving favour to demo more and is showing the universal appeal
of democracy as well. There are antidemo and antiauthor movements and groups but this
shows that the majority of the world does value demo and the protection of individual rights.
Arab revolutions has shown that authoritarian regimes are not as formidable as they seem.
Many researchers were positive that authoritarian regimes were able to survive because they
adapted and were able to make thing like democratic-looking institutions.
Page 7 of 15 Some Arab countries have been able to stay in power due to the help from their militaries