Growing Pains: Russian Democracy and the Election of 1993

By Timothy J. Colton; Jerry F. Hough | Go to book overview

the problematic character of the process of democratization, but of the variety of the imperfections. We must understand that the choice is not simply between military or totalitarian dictatorship and the ideals of advanced Western democracy, but that there are many intermediate choices.

If the West is really serious about promoting democratization around the world, it must develop theories of democratization that include all stages of the democratization process. Our advice cannot be limited to that which is appropriate only for an advanced democratic system with well-established parties. We must distinguish between less benign and more benign imperfections. Tocqueville was right to fear that democracy was destabilizing America in the 1830s, and the city bosses of the post-Civil War period made a positive contribution to American political and economic development. Some authoritarian regimes in Latin America featured death squads, while authoritarianism in Taiwan, Singapore, or Mexico seems like that of Western Europe in the nineteenth century, with positive as well as negative sides. Economists have developed prescriptive models that, accurate or not, have an impact, and political scientists must become more serious in their theoretical analysis of the process of democratization as well.


Notes
1.
Alfred Stepan, "Paths toward Redemocratization: Theoretical and Comparative Considerations," in Guillermo O'Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter, and Laurence Whitehead , eds., Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Comparative Perspectives ( Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 64-84.
2.
Although the Catholic Church often was antidemocratic in Latin America and southern Europe, it was a strong supporter of democracy and tolerance in the United States. Indeed, in the late 1890s the American church so angered the Vatican on these matters that the Pope officially condemned "Americanism." Thomas T. McAvoy , The Americanist Heresy in Roman Catholicism, 1895-1900 ( University of Notre Dame Press, 1963).
3.
To be sure, when the chair of the Duma elected in 1993 titled his book on the Russian legislature, T he State Duma: The Fifth Attempt, he reminded us that Russia actually had competitive elections between 1907 and 1917. However, these elections were so long ago that they had little impact on the 1980s and 1990s. I. P. Rybkin , Gosudarstvennaya Duma: piataya popytka: Ocherk noverishei istorii predstavel'noi vlasti v Rossii ( Moscow: Mezhdunarodny Gumanitarnyi Fond Znanie, 1994).
4.
Guillermo O'Donnell, "Transitions, Continuities, and Paradoxes," in Scott Mainwaring , Guillermo O'Donnell, and J. Samuel Valenzuela, eds., Issues inDemocratic Consolidation: The New South American Democracies in Comparative Perspective

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