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Azerbaijan, Caucasus / Central Asia, Democratization, Nationalism, Political order, Politics / Political Systems, Religions, Violence, Les études du CERI
Post-Soviet Azerbaijan is the theater of an Islamic revival in the public sphere, a direct consequence of exiting from the empire and achieving independence, which involved the rehabilitation of religion, even the integration of Islam in a new national identitarian policy. Azerbaijan stands out from the rest of the former USSR by the fact that it is the most secularized Muslim country due to its early entrance into Russia’s bosom and the fact that it was long the ground for an ideological clash between the Shiite Persian Empires and the Sunni Ottoman Empire. It is through the convergence of internal factors – a preserved Islam despite the anti-religious Soviet policy – and external factors – the influence of neighboring countries, Turkey, Iran and the Arab world – that Azerbaijani Islam has been reconfigured since the end of the communist era. Eager to preserve the country’s secularity – the pride of the elites – and to ensure that the religious revival does not turn into a source of tension between the two essential components of its population (Shiites and Sunnis), the state has – with difficulty and sometimes a lack of subtlety – set up a religious policy that is far from receiving general approval. However, even if its handling of Islam is disputed, the Azerbaijan government controls the religious phenomenon through a policy that alternates between tolerance and repression.
Le système Thaksin : coup de frein au processus de démocratisation ou « voie thaïlandaise » vers la démocratie ?
Collective mobilizations, Democratization, NGOs / Civil society, Politics / Political Systems, Southeast Asia, Thailand, Les études du CERI
Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s Prime Minister, is a man of superlatives: the billionaire telecommunications tycoon is the only elected Thai head of government to have managed to get through an entire legislative term before being triumphantly reelected to a second mandate. His party, Thai Rak Thai (“Thais Love Thais”), rules with an overwhelming majority. Having rose to power in the wake of the 1997 Asian crisis and the promulgation of Thailand’s democratic Constitution the same year, Thaksin exemplifies the country’s recent history: he is heir to the authoritarian military regimes of the 1960-1970 and the product of a political and economic liberalization that brought businessmen transformed into professional politicians to power. But whether the “Thaksin system” – a blend of authoritarianism and liberalism – has put the brakes on twenty-five years of political democratization or if he embodies a “Thai way” to democracy, the Prime Minister cannot rule to please himself: he is faced with a dynamic, complex and organized civil society that has already proven in at least three different instances its striking talent for political mobilization.
Collective mobilizations, Cuba, Democratization, Justice, Latin America and the Caribbean, NGOs / Civil society, Politics / Political Systems, Les études du CERI
Alongside the socialist society that Cuba is in the process of constructing, an unofficial “civil society” is actually taking shape, made up for the most part of dissident movements. The Cuban Catholic Church, the only non-Castrist institution in existence, is playing a crucial role in maintaining a certain balance between the two; the Church’s dual nature – universal in scope but locally implanted – has fostered a unique conception of its relation to Cuban society, all the more so as its ambition is above all to win back a position of influence and reaffirm its central status. This ambition is furthered by two means, both of which are basically handled by secular representatives, in particular by groups associated with Dagoberto Valdès. On one hand there is a pragmatic approach based on social work and the activities of training centers; on the other an effort to rethink the role of the Church in relation to society and envisage the possibility of a new form of citizenship founded on Catholic values. The charitable initiatives are acceptable to the regime; but the same does not hold as far as the resolve to become active social participants is concerned, a move seen as a form of defense of conservative, backward-looking options. In addition relations between the Church and dissident movements are strained. This ambiguous situation might well render the role of Catholics in the post-Castrist transition more uncertain, even though the Church’s expertise will be required for national reconciliation to take place.
Burma, Collective mobilizations, Democratization, Identities, Politics / Political Systems, Southeast Asia, State, Transnational actors, Violence, Les études du CERI
The Burmese junta that came to power in 1962, and reaffirmed its domination by a second military coup d’état in September of 1988, has steadily increased its control over the nation’s institutions and over the running of the country (renamed Myanmar in 1989). In August of 2003, the decision taken by General Khin Nyunt, Prime Minister and head of military intelligence, to propose “a road map to democracy” suggested that a gradual “transition to democracy”, closely supervised by the military regime, was possible. But the ousting of Khin Nuyunt in October 2004 spelled the return of the regime’s hardliners and of the last of the army’s nationalist chiefs, adamantly opposed to any negotiations with the democratic civilian opposition led by Aung San Suu, held under house arrest since May 2003. Thus the regime, strengthened by a favorable strategic environment, has a good chance of remaining in power by setting its own rules for “democratic” procedures, its aim being to keep the country stable rather pursuing a process of liberalization. Such a policy will inevitably be detrimental to the interests of the opposition and the ethnic minorities.
Brazil, Democratization, Emerging States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Politics / Political Systems, Poverty, Social policy, Les études du CERI
This study, which examines the chances of success of the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, takes as its starting point the idea that the main obstacle resides in the structure of the Brazilian political system. Being unable to reform that system, President Lula has skilfully adapted to it, but not without having to forge certain unusual alliances. He has, nevertheless, honoured the campaign promises which brought him to power after three unsuccessful attempts in a row, maintaining anti-inflationary policies and strict budgetary discipline, and respecting commitments given concerning public debt and privatised companies. This macroeconomic policy – which follows on from that of Fernando Henrique Cardoso – dominated his government’s first year in office, slowing the implementation of new policies addressing social issues and sustainable development. So far, the latter policies would appear to point more to continuity than to radical change, a fact which will, doubtless, contribute greatly to their success.
Democratization, Law, Politics / Political Systems, Southeast Asia, State, Vietnam, Les études du CERI
Since the 1980s – and, more symbolically, since the 6th Communist party Congress – Vietnam has been engaged in reform, which is referred to as “dôi moi”, i.e. renewal. While their aim is, first and foremost, to change the rules governing economic activity, these reforms have, since the 1990s, also been associated with political, institutional and legal change. Influenced, on the one hand, by endogenous constraints arising out of the necessary adaptation of the politico-legal environment and of the evolution of the power-legitimation processes and, on the other hand, by exogenous constraints born of the desire for integration into the international community and economy, the discourse of the Vietnamese authorities and the country’s fundamental political texts have both been modified. It seems undeniable that, despite its weightiness and areas of permanence, the Vietnamese politico-legal system is, de facto, slowly evolving and becoming “normalised”. The intention here is not to suggest that Vietnam is undergoing a “democratic transition” bringing it closer to a western model of reference. The aim of the regime may be defined thus: “to consolidate the single-party system while satisfying the demands for modernisation”. By means of an analysis of the system of people’s assemblies elected by the population and of the legal – i.e. juridical and judicial – system, this study attempts to provide an insight into the regime’s capacity for politico-legal innovation and, notably, into its capacity to structure new arenas for debate. It examines the complex evolutions which have affected the rules and players of this too-often-neglected aspect of a changing Vietnam.
Balkans, Bulgaria, Democratization, Political order, Politics / Political Systems, State, Les Cahiers du CERI
The January 1997 popular protest in Bulgaria revealed how fragile representative democracy's legitimacy is likely to be in post-communist regimes. An often underlooked item in the transitologists' studies on Eastern Europe, political representation thus provides a vantage point for monitoring the process of democratic consolidation. By adopting political linkage as the conceptual focus of our investigation, we way attempt to elucidate the ways in wich the relationship between the rulers and the ruled develops and consequently unveils factors conducive to the routinisation of a democratic political relationship. The approach adopted her entails an emphasis on the social imaginaries of representation with a view to to identifying citizens' expectations about their appointees as well as the symbolic and material bases interactions between voters and representatives build upon. In a country where the differentiation of economic interests and their channeling by political parties where hampered by the slow pace of structural reforms, political linkages are not primarily grounded upon the voters' rational assessment of their preferences. Rather they tend to be rooted in social representations of politics. While being relegated into a distant sphere of corrupted and particularistic otherness, politics is nonetheless supposed to meet essentially clientelistic expectations. In a context where deputies enjoy a poor institutional legitimacy, any failure to guarantee social and ecnomic redistribution threatens the representational linkage with distruption.
Bulgaria, Central and Eastern Europe, Democratization, Politics / Political Systems, Security policy, Social policy, State, Les études du CERI
Collective mobilizations, Democratization, Emerging States, Indonesia, Political order, Politics / Political Systems, Religions, Southeast Asia, State, Les études du CERI
Colonization/Decolonization, Democratization, Emerging States, India, NGOs / Civil society, Political economy, Political order, South Asia, State, Les Cahiers du CERI
Western theories of democracy are not always helpful in studying Third World democracy. One promising way to undertake analysis is to consider democracy not as a political system but as a "language". Whilst in India the written constitution was inspired by models developed in the West, in practice Indian democracy is not based on the values of individualism associated with a liberal ideology. Indeed, initially the nation itself and, afterwards, social groups were considered as the basic units of the political process. This was particularly the case in the early post-independance period under Gandhi's inspiration for he regarded the nation as being composed of traditional communities. Later Nehru would abandon liberal values as a part of a leftist critique, one that would favorize state intervention. Nevertheless the stronger state was not able to undertake the expected redistributive measures due to the conservatism of the Congress Party "bosses " who were above all the representatives of a ruling coalition of large landholders, a capitalist bourgeoisie and the public service elite. The only real sign of progress prior to Nehru's death was the replacement of the first element by an upwardly mobile group of wealthier peasant farmers. Through her populist discourse, Indira Gandhi was able to veer Indian democracy towards greater centralisation and a more pronounced personality cult. As a result the democratic process was discredited and a State of Emergency declared in 1975. The return to democracy in 1977 did not reverse these trends, at least until the liberalisation of 1991. Today Indian democracy remains threatened by powerful groups, the Hindus and the lower castes who, in the name of "majority rights", seek to take power and keep it once and for all. This would amount to ousting minorities from the decision-making process