The Noble West and the Dirty Rest? Western Democracy Promoters and Illiberal Regional Powers
Tanja A. Börzel – 2015
This conclusion summarizes the major findings of this special issue and discusses their implications for research on democratization and international democracy promotion. First, I compare the interactions between EU and US democracy promotion and the responses of non-democratic regional powers. In the cases in which Russia, Saudi Arabia, and China chose to pursue a countervailing strategy, I match the reactions of the US and the EU and explore how the combined (inter-)actions of democratic and non-democratic actors have affected efforts at democracy promotion in the target countries. The second part discusses the theoretical implications of these findings and identifies challenges for theory-building. I argue that the literature still has to come to terms with a counter-intuitive finding of this special issue, namely that non-democratic actors can promote democratic change by unintentionally empowering liberal reform coalitions as much as democracy promoters can unwittingly enhance autocracy by stabilizing illiberal incumbent regimes. I conclude with some policy considerations.