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(Answered) Challenge of Semi-Authoritarianism By Martha Brill Olcott, Marina Ottaway Publisher: Carnegie Carnegie Paper No. 7, October 1999 The post-cold war...


Challenge of Semi-Authoritarianism By Martha Brill Olcott, Marina Ottaway Publisher: Carnegie Carnegie Paper No. 7, October 1999 The post-cold war...


Based on the attached article, what do the authors mean by semi-authoritarian regimes? Identify one country that is currently in the news that fits the definition of a semi-authoritarian regime. Why do you identify this country as such?Challenge of Semi-Authoritarianism

 

By

 

Martha Brill Olcott

 

,

 

Marina Ottaway

 

Publisher:

 

Carnegie Carnegie Paper No. 7, October

 

1999

 

The post-cold war world has seen the rise of an increasing number of regimes that cannot be

 

easily classified as either authoritarian or democratic, but display some characteristics of each—

 

in short, they are semi-authoritarian regimes. These regimes have adopted some of the formal

 

traits of democracy, such as constitutions providing for the separation of powers and contested

 

presidential and parliamentary elections, and they allow some degree of political freedom to their

 

citizens; nevertheless, they are able to protect themselves from open competition that might

 

threaten the tenure of the incumbents. Such regimes abound in the former Soviet Union: in

 

countries like Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan, for example, former communist bosses have

 

transformed themselves into elected presidents, but in reality they remain strongmen whose

 

power is barely checked by weak democratic institutions. Semi-authoritarian regimes are also

 

numerous in Sub-Saharan Africa, where most of the multi-party elections of the 1990s have

 

failed to produce working parliaments or other institutions capable of holding the executive

 

accountable. In the Middle East, tentative political openings in Algeria, Morocco and Yemen

 

appear to be leading to the consolidation of semi-authoritarian regimes rather than to democracy,

 

following a pattern first established by Egypt. In the Balkans, the communist regimes have

 

disappeared, but democracy remains a distant hope even in countries that are at peace. Even

 

more worrisome is the example of Latin America, where steady progress toward democracy has

 

been interrupted by the new semi-authoritarianism of Peru and Venezuela.

 

Several factors explain why a growing number of regimes are adopting outwardly more

 

democratic political systems: the loss of appeal of socialist systems during the 1990s, the

 

creation of newly independent states, and the corresponding need felt by an increasing number of

 

governments to legitimize themselves in the eyes of their citizens and of the international

 

community; the pressure by donor countries, which have launched democracy promotion

 

programs and in some cases even make economic aid contingent on the implementation of

 

democratic reforms; and the demonstration effect of democratization in the neighboring

 

countries.

 

A combination of external pressures and countervailing forces created by domestic opposition

 

has limited the capacity of most governments to impose their policies unilaterally and to continue

 

governing in an authoritarian fashion. But these pressures have not been sufficient to bring about

 

a new distribution of power in most countries. As a result, reforms have remained incomplete

 

and the new regimes have been able to prevent further change through their successful

 

manipulation of the new institutions and often of the opposition as well. The new semi-

 

authoritarian regimes continue to go through the motions of a democratic process, but they have

 

become masters at stifling electoral competition or at keeping parliaments powerless and

 

judiciary systems cowed. They have also learned to manipulate public opinion: on the one hand,

 

they claim that that they are committed to popular empowerment and the redistribution of power;

 

on the other, they emphasize that the risks of instability they claim are inherent in untrammeled

 

competition and by so doing succeed in deflecting criticisms and reducing internal pressure for

 

democratization.

 


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