The European Union and Democratization

By Paul J. Kubicek | Go to book overview

Preface

In the course of living and doing research in a number of countries waiting in line for membership in the European Union, I was struck by the difference between the heady rhetoric of democracy and reform from the EU and the cynicism and suspicion of people on the ground in these countries, many of whom were not particularly impressed by EU efforts to promote reforms. Indeed, public opinion in a number of prospective EU members - not to mention in some EU countries as well - reflects great ambivalence, if not hostility, to the EU. This gap between the rhetoric and hopes of the EU and the views of those the EU is ostensibly trying to help provided the initial impetus for this volume.

Our specific set of questions revolves around EU efforts to promote democracy in cases we label "reluctant democratizers," those countries where democratization faced or still faces some formidable hurdles. Our goal is to use these cases - cases of success and failure - to illuminate how external promotion of democracy can work and how it may be limited. Surprisingly, this is an area that lacks extensive treatment in the literature, falling as it does between the gap of comparative politics and international relations. Moreover, when one looks at the issue of EU democratization efforts, one finds little rigorous research, with most works limited to the successful cases of democratic transition in Southern and Central Europe. By looking at some less well-studied cases, we hope to broaden both our empirical and theoretical understanding of the nexus between international and domestic politics on questions of democratization.

Initial versions of Chapters 1, 3, 5, and 6 were originally presented at the Annual Conference of the International Studies Association in New Orleans in March 2002. Afterwards, we found additional collaborators for this project to extend our coverage of the issue. While this volume was initially grounded with some skepticism of EU efforts, we recognize that in many cases the EU has played a positive role in promoting democracy, and we remain hopeful that it can do better in those countries that remain "reluctant democratizers." We hope that this volume can make a contribution in that direction.

PJK

-xi-

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