Recent interesting articles related to democracy and transitions

The title above says it all. I’m slowly working my way through my Google Reader backlog and thought I’d share the following.

These winds of change may now reach across the Sahara. Nobel prize winner Wangari Maathai is hopeful that the revolutions in north Africa will reach the rest of the continent, but sees obstacles in the lack of national identities, roles of the militaries, and lack of information.

Afghan perspectives on “democracy”. A survey revealed negative perceptions of democracy and Western-style freedom, but support for accountable, elected government. (h/t Texas in Africa)

Respectability is for sale. A how-to for dictators and other unsavory characters who want to bolster their images.

The Arab press. The Economist assesses the response of newspapers in Arab countries to shifting political tides.

Transitioning to a peaceful and democratic state. With caveats about the uniqueness of each context, ICG’s Nick Grono offers some general principles for supporting nations in transition. In sum: reform has to happen quickly; democratisation can be co-opted by the existing elite; get the military out of politics as quickly as possible; get elections right; understand that outsiders are bystanders; don’t try to pick winners; and conflict prevention matters. (h/t to Alex Evans at Global Dashboard)

March Madness: Democrats v. Dictators. FP tries to piggyback on America’s inexplicable annual obsession with college basketball by introducing an equally inexplicable tournament of world leaders. Interpret as you wish.

“In the past, the state used to torture to get this kind of data.  Now all they have to do is just get on facebook.” Evgeny Morozov challenges the “cyber-utopian” belief that internet connectivity inevitably leads to democracy. (Video below, or here.)

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