Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Crucial Role of Leaders in Democratic Transitions

The Crucial Role of Leaders in Democratic Transitions

In Review

Democratic Transitions: Conversations with World Leaders
Edited by Sergio Bitar & Abraham F. Lowenthal
Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2015

In sharp contrast with the democratic euphoria of the 1990s and early 2000s that was triggered by the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent rapid transitions towards democracy, we are now in a period of exaggerated democratic pessimism. Certainly, there have been disappointments and setbacks over the past decade—particularly the failed uprisings in all but one of the “Arab Spring” countries. Yet during the same period there also have been significant democratic breakthroughs, for example, in Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The net number of democracies in the world has in fact held essentially even.

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