regime transition

A history of colonialism is one factor that many of the cases we’ve looked at in this course share, including South Africa, Afghanistan and Burma.  This paper will deal with the question of how the colonial history and transition process of a country have helped or hindered its path to democracy. According to Myron Weiner, as of 1985, “an impressive number of erstwhile British colonies have maintained British-style democratic institutions for all or most of their post-independence history [while] not a single former Dutch, Belgian, or French colony currently has democratic institutions”. The main question that you will address is to what extent was the colonial history and/or the independence process a determinant of the country’s current levels of democracy. In doing so, you will also need to discuss other important factors that have either hurt or helped the country’s democratic development, such as societal cleavages.
Important considerations include:
1.    How democratic is the country right now? (consult Freedom in the World 2012 Report)
2.    What political institutions were preserved, destroyed or created after the end of colonialism? Have these been positive or negative for democracy?
3.    How was the fight for independence structured? What was the role of political leaders in shaping the type of government that emerged?
4.    How majoritarian or consensual are the post-independence institutions? Do they accurately reflect and effectively manage the cleavages present in the society?

Possible cases:
Algeria, Belize, Congo, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, The Philippines, Turkey, Zimbabwe

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