Democracy promotion and the challenges of illiberal regional powers: introduction to the special issue

Buchcover

Buchcover

Thomas Risse, Nelli Babayan – 2015

This special issue examines Western efforts at democracy promotion, reactions by illiberal challengers and regional powers, and political and societal conditions in target states. We argue that Western powers are not unequivocally committed to the promotion of democracy and human rights, while non-democratic regional powers cannot simply be described as "autocracy supporters". This article introduces the special issue. First, illiberal regional powers are likely to respond to Western efforts at democracy promotion in third countries if they perceive challenges to their geostrategic interests in the region or to the survival of their regime. Second, Western democracy promoters react to countervailing policies by illiberal regimes if they prioritize democracy and human rights goals over stability and security goals which depends in turn on their perception of the situation in the target countries and their overall relationships to the non- democratic regional powers. Third, the effects on the ground mostly depend on the domestic configuration of forces. Western democracy promoters are likely to empower liberal groups in the target countries, while countervailing efforts by non-democratic regional powers will empower illiberal groups. In some cases, though, countervailing efforts by illiberal regimes have the counterintuitive effect of fostering democracy by strengthening democratic elites and civil societyThis special issue examines Western efforts at democracy promotion, reactions by illiberal challengers and regional powers, and political and societal conditions in target states. We argue that Wester powers are not unequivocally committed to the promotion of democracy and human rights, while non-democratic regional powers cannot simply be described as "autocracy supporters". This article introduces the special issue. First, illiberal regional powers are likely to respond to Western efforts at democracy promotion in third countries if they perceive challenges to their geostrategic interests in the region or to the survival of their regime. Second, Western democracy promoters react to countervailing policies by illiberal regimes if they prioritize democracy and human rights goals over stability and security goals which depends in turn on their perception of the situation in the target countries and their overall relationships to the non- democratic regional powers. Third, the effects on the ground mostly depend on the domestic configuration of forces. Western democracy promoters are likely to empower liberal groups in the target countries, while countervailing efforts by non-democratic regional powers will empower illiberal groups. In some cases, though, countervailing efforts by illiberal regimes have the counterintuitive effect of fostering democracy by strengthening democratic elites and civil society..

Title
Democracy promotion and the challenges of illiberal regional powers: introduction to the special issue
Publisher
Routledge
Keywords
Europe, China, MENA, local actors, fragile states, authoritarianism, external actors, democracy, Research Project A1, Research Project T3
Date
2015-02-25
Identifier
ISSN 1351-0347 (Print) , ISSN 1743-890X (Online)
Appeared in
Risse, Thomas/Babayan, Nelli (eds.): Democracy Promotion and the Challenges of Illiberal Regional Powers, Special Issue of Democratization, 22 (3), 381-399.
Language
eng
Type
Text