Democratization

Ask CFR Experts

Why have many Muslim states struggled to achieve democracy?

Asked by Farah, from University of Karachi

If "democracy" is achieved when governments rule by consent through free and fair elections, then some of the world's largest Muslim nations are democratic: Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Turkey. In the Arab world, experiments to achieve democratic governance are underway in Iraq, Lebanon, and Tunisia, and are beginning in earnest in Egypt. Arguably, Pakistan has just witnessed its first democratic transition of power.

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News Release

How to Establish Democracy? New Book Examines Pathways

As countries from Libya to Tunisia to Myanmar navigate complex paths to democracy, a new CFR book offers insights and recommendations from political and economic transitions that have unfolded in recent decades. "By understanding the trade-offs and critical economic and policy decisions that transitioning countries have faced in the past, policymakers can make smarter choices to improve the chances of successful democratization in states undergoing transitions today," write Isobel Coleman, CFR senior fellow and director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative, and Terra Lawson-Remer, CFR fellow, in Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons From Democratic Transitions.

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Audio

Pathways to Freedom: Political and Economic Lessons from Democratic Transitions

Speakers: John Campbell, Isobel Coleman, and Terra Lawson-Remer
Presider: Gideon Rose

John Campbell, Isobel Coleman, and Terra Lawson-Remer discuss their new Council on Foreign Relations book, Pathways to Freedom, which offers an authoritative and accessible look at what countries must do to build durable and prosperous democracies—and what the United States and others can do to help.

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Must Read

Project Syndicate: Populism Without the People

Author: Jan-Werner Mueller

"Calls for more popular participation are not essential to populism; rather, they are a symptom of perceived exclusion (which might well be a reality, especially in Latin America). But cries for political inclusion are different from demands for direct democracy. Where direct democracy is very much a part of normal politics – in Switzerland, for example – populist parties have been doing better, not worse, than elsewhere."

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