Establishing Democracies

Establishing Democracies

Establishing Democracies

Establishing Democracies

Synopsis

Balancing historical and contemporary cases, this comparative text examines the crucial question of what promotes or prevents the successful founding of democratic systems.

Excerpt

The idea for this book originated several years ago in discussions among colleagues at Skidmore and the Russian Research Center at Harvard as we all were trying to make sense of the momentous events in Eastern Europe. I myself was reading the comparative literature on democratization in other areas of the world to see how it could be applied to postcommunist systems, and I felt the need for more information on past attempts to establish democratic systems. I also wanted my students to see contemporary developments in a broad historical and theoretical context. These chapters try to provide that context and at the same time to present a number of case studies in sufficient detail for comparative analysis.

We hope the chapters that follow will be of use to scholars exploring new areas of research or to their students who may be approaching the study of democratic systems and democratization for the first time. In the few pages at our disposal, we could provide only brief surveys of these exciting but complicated periods in the founding of democratic systems. Each chapter ends with a chronology to simplify its complexities, and the general index should facilitate comparisons across cases. Our hope is that this material can stimulate further research by students and scholars, and so we have included extensive notes and suggestions for further reading after each chapter.

I should like to express my thanks to my colleagues at Skidmore and the Russian Research Center for their cooperation in this effort and their patience with my many demands and deadlines. My own tasks were made much more enjoyable by the help of Chris DeLucia, whose skills were crucial in the project's early stages. Deep appreciation goes also to my husband, Erwin L. Levine, for his significant contributions to this work, both academic and personal. We are all grateful to Phyllis A. Roth, Dean of the Faculty at Skidmore, for helping to support the fall 1994 conference in Saratoga that began the project, and to the many participants in those discussions, especially Erik P. Hoffmann, for comments and advice. Special thanks must also go to the Skidmore students in Government 365 during spring 1995 who read these chapters in an earlier form and whose insights and suggestions contributed significantly to the outcome. It is to those students that we dedicate the volume. Mary Ellen Fischer . . .

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