In 2006, under the auspices of the Program on Democracy, CDDRL initiated a project called "Waves and Troughs of Post Communist Reform." The project is led jointly by Michael McFaul and Kathryn Stoner-Weiss. The idea is to look over a fifteen plus year span at the ups and downs of post-communist democratic development since 1989. Why have some countries transited relatively smoothly to consolidated democracy (like Poland, for example), while others, like Belarus languish in authoritarianism? Why did some countries in the region experience a second wave of democratic reform beginning in Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003 and Ukraine in 2004, while others, like Russia suffered notable slips back from democracy toward autocracy by 2005?
McFaul and Stoner-Weiss assembled a group of scholars to compare country experiences in the former communist world, but more specifically to compare the interplay of two factors that have been downplayed so far in the political science work done on democratic transitions: the power of mass mobilization, and the influence of international actors on democratic transitions.
The project hopes to contribute a greater understanding to what makes democratic
transitions stick, and why some democracies fail to consolidate, by examining in greater
detail these previously overlooked variables in comparison to others like level of economic development, for example. In this way, the project should help further a more general and complete understanding of democratic transition worldwide.
Participants in the project include scholars and policy makers from North America and
Europe, as well as from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
Papers from this workshop are available as CDDRL Working Papers.