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.

Marco Martiniello

The text deals with the issue of the uses of images of cultural difference and specificity in the so-called "communitarian conflict" in Belgium. More generally, it adresses the issue of the complex relation between political identities and culture as well as the meaning of these two notions in the processes of political construction of ethnicity and of the nation. Five points are developed. Firstly, the long history of the "communitarian conflict" is reminded. Secondly, it is shown that images of cultural and identity specificity have always been politically exploited in this conflict. Thirdly, the hypothesis according to wich the federalisation process of the State has revealed a deep change in the shape of the "communitarian conflict" is presented. Fourthly , it is shown that the identity and cultural items politically used in the conflict are not the same whether groups are engaged in ethnicity politics or nationalist politics. Provisional conclusions about the future of Belgium are drawn in fifth point

The state in Africa and in Asia is often conceived of as a "purely imported product" to use the accepted expression of Bertrand Badie and Pierre Birnbaum. However rather than limit ourselves to accounts of some kind of "failed universalisation", questions should rather be raised concerning state creation as a historical process, one which is conflictual, unintentional, generally unconscious and, as a result, often paradoxical. Indeed the argument that the state is fundamentally extraneous cannot be maintained in the light of recent historical and anthropological research. From this research it would seem that institutions of European origin have acquired their own social roots and have become culturally appropriated. They thus must be examined within the "long term" time framework suggested by Braudel, on condition that certain methodological precautions are taken into account.Three ways can be envisaged for reconstituting the historical trajectories of the state in Africa and Asia: as a continuous civilisational process, as expressions of social inequality or cultural configurations of politics. However while an understanding of cultural historicity is a precondition for understanding political historicity it should not, with all due respect to intellectual trendmakers, lead to culturalist explanations. Foucault's concept of gouvernementalité provides a more promising problematic, one which places the creation of the state in relationship to the process of ascribing it with a subjective quality as well as the imaginary dimension of politics. Both of these have to be grasped within their connection to the material.

Sudipta Kaviraj

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

One of the most remarkable social phenomena in Iran in the 1990s is the audacious policy of urban redevelopment carried out by the mayor of Tehran, Gholamhossein Karbastchi. This policy, on the one hand, has become a model for the rest of the country. On the othe, it is the subject of a widespread political debate favorized by the personal, high-profile media style of the city's mayor. The most popular achievement of Karbastchi is the increase in the number of public squares and parks. These public places have become the stage for a whole series of totally new social practices. As such they are both a scene of acts of reconciliation and of potential conflict. In particular they are the setting for a coexistence between the ideology of the Islamic Republic and of national culture.However the increase in taxation that has accompanied this urban renovation has generated opposition both of a political and economic kind. The public's use of these gardens, the perception of the tax burden required to finance them, and the ensuing debates over these questions have opened up a negociating area between social actors, one that might well contribute to the creation of a public space. This process has helped the rationalization and the bureaucratization of society conveyed by the Islamic Republic while, at the same time, being carried out by a political figure who is perceived within the framework of a culturally constructed imagination. In fact the hypothesis of the "rentier" state, posited by a number of authors concerning the Middle East, is extended in this paper through anthropological study.

David P. Calleo

What are the challenges facing the European Union with the end of the Cold War ? Will the Union be able to meet them ? What links should it maintain with the United States ? What type of relations should be established with Russia ? 
The stakes are high: nothing less than international stability and world harmony in the next century. The challenges are of various kinds encompassing political, security, economic and institutional issues. In the first part of this study, the author analyses these challenges and argues for a European approach rid of the more unrealistic federalist ideas. In a second section he examines those states that will play major roles in Europe's future: Germany and France, within the EU, and, outside it, Russia and the United States. In doing so he attempts to evaluate Europe's ability to rise to the occasion.

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