State Of Global Democracy

Why Has Democracy Languished In Arab Countries?
The editorial board of The Economist weighs in one what it deems is “one of the great questions of all time” – why Arab countries have so miserably failed to create democracy, happiness or wealth for their people.

One of the root causes, they say is the modern reinterpretations of Islam and the militant minority who are “caught up in a search for legitimacy through ever more fanatical interpretations of the Koran.”

But, they add, “religious extremism is a conduit for misery, not its fundamental cause” and Islamic democracies have done well outside of the Middle East.

“Today the outlook is bloody. But ultimately fanatics devour themselves. Meanwhile, wherever possible, the moderate, secular Sunnis who comprise the majority of Arab Muslims need to make their voices heard. And when their moment comes, they need to cast their minds back to the values that once made the Arab world great. Education underpinned its primacy in medicine, mathematics, architecture and astronomy. Trade paid for its fabulous metropolises and their spices and silks. And, at its best, the Arab world was a cosmopolitan haven for Jews, Christians and Muslims of many sects, where tolerance fostered creativity and invention.

“Pluralism, education, open markets: these were once Arab values and they could be so again,” they conclude.

Shadi Hamid, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of the new book, ”Temptations of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East,” looks at the relationship between democracy and liberalism in the Middle East.

Freedom In Decline In Eastern Europe
Freedom House just released the latest issue of its report on democratic governance in post-communist countries and found an alarming level of repression – led, of course, by Russia.

According to the report, of the 29 countries assessed in 2013, only 13 were rated as democracies, and that corruption increased in Central and Eastern Europe in 2013, with half of the 10 assessed European Union (EU) member states receiving downgrades.

The Balkans did register some positive developments during the year, including Croatia’s EU accession and a historic agreement between Kosovo and Serbia.

Is Japan’s Democracy Under Threat From Prime Minister Abe?
William Pesek of Bloomberg View examines how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has governed and whether the nation can survive his growing tendency toward a more autocratic style of governance.

“For the third time since taking office in December 2012 Abe did exactly what all too many of his 126 million people oppose. Earlier, he rushed into law a controversial secrecy bill that could send reporters and whisteblowers to jail on varied and ambiguous grounds, and he pushed to restart reactors shut on safety grounds after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster,” he writes.

How To Govern In A Polarized America
The Bipartisan Policy Center has released a report on how policymakers can navigate through the polarized world of present day American politics.


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