A User’s Guide to Democratic Transitions
A how-to guide for reformers around the world
Let’s face it: Democracy is struggling. Sure, it surged after the fall of the Berlin Wall, reaching a high-water mark in the first years of the 21st century with various inspirational “colored” revolutions. But then democratic gains in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Latin America stalled, or even deteriorated, as fragile democracies struggled under the enormous challenge of governance. The expensive U.S. failures to impose democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t helped. Today, many countries that once seemed budding with democratic promise now appear mired in political infighting, beset by power grabs by ousted elites, or trapped in downward spirals of poverty and unemployment. And the seemingly inexorable rise of autocratic China, in sharp contrast with gridlocked western democracies, has some wondering whether democracy is even worth pursuing.
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1. Don’t miss the opportunity presented by a good economic crisis.
2. On elections, “Fake it till you make it.”
3. Be wary of armed rebellions, but back nonviolent, mass mobilizations.
4. Encourage Inclusive Growth.
5. Double Down on Rule of Law.
6. Spread Out the Power.
7. Lean on Good Neighbors and Compensate for Bad Ones.