CDDRL and USIP Release Joint Report on Democratic Breakthroughs
August 20, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
In August 2012, the Center for Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) released a report detailing external and internal influences on democratic revolts. The 48-page report incorporates cases from around the world, including successes in the Soviet Union in 1991 and failures such as Mexico in 2000. The report then extrapolates the likelihood of successful democracy in cases in the Middle East.
By identifying the causes and support of democratic revolts in the studied cases, the report analyzes implications for democracy support. In order "to avoid diffuse, poorly coordinated, and sometimes counterproductive external assistance efforts." The report also highlights "the importance of providing long-term and fast-track democracy assistance." Ten necessary conditions for successful breakthroughs are recognized:
"1. Important reforms or small electoral victories for opposition forces preceded successful regime change, giving anti-autocratic forces valuable platforms and footholds to organize additional effort.
2. In successful breakthroughs the political opposition managed to unify around a singular agenda or iconic figure, illustrating the power of individual agency and coordinated effort in breakthrough moments.
3. Societies in which regime change occurred experienced economic crises and chronically poor service delivery prior to breakthrough that collided with the fourth feature found in successful transition venues.
4. Rising expectations from increasing levels of literacy and education prior to breakthrough, which when paired with poor economic performance typically resulted in unrest.
5. Effective mass mobilization by opposition forces attracted large numbers of citizens from diverse economic pursuits, social classes, and generational cohorts to the breakthrough effort.
6. The influence and capacities of civil society organizations increased in the years preceding breakthroughs, typically making significant contributions to democracy discourse and mass mobilization efforts.
7. In each successful transition venue, the opposition’s inventive use of free media outmaneuvered government attempts to control information flows.
8. Autocrats who made concessions to opposition forces in the midst of revolts were often perceived as being vulnerable or weak, more often than not engendering greater ferocity and fearlessness in subsequent protests.
9. In each instance of democratic transition, get out the vote initiatives and efforts to protect and independently tally election results proved critical to the integrity of key elections.
10. In each instance of successful breakthrough, the transition of power passed in a relatively nonviolent manner due to wavering loyalty among security forces, a negotiated exit for the authoritarian leader or a decision by an autocrat to avoid violent repression."
CDDRL is headed by Director Larry Diamond, CCD Board member. Diamond was recently featured in a documentary about democracy assistance called A Whisper to a Roar. Read more about the documentary here.
To read the full report, please click here.