Democratic Government, impact evaluation, Non Governmental Organizations
Does Autocracy Promotion Matter for Democracy Assistance?

Peter Burnell, Professor at the University of Warwick, England, has written a new article exploring whether democracy assistance practitioners should measure autocracy promotion.

Autocracy promotion
and export are increasingly mentioned in discussions about democratization and world politics. Stanford’s Michael McFaul, who is currently special assistant to President Obama, notes in Advancing Democracy Abroad (Rowman and Littlefield 2010) that autocracies such as Russia, Iran and Venezuela are increasing the resources they devote to exporting their forms of government. By the end of the Bush presidency, they ‘did not simply defend their own autocratic systems, but provided ideas and resources to other anti-democratic governments and social movements’ (p.6). China’s own illiberal development, its defence of principles of state sovereignty and non-intervention, and its growing international commercial and financial ties that benefit governments of various hues, have all stirred anxieties about the implications for the spread of democracy and international democracy support. In The Return of History and the End of Dreams (Knopf 2008) Robert Kagan mused on whether a global power shift, or transformation and inter-state rivalry, are now sealing the end of democracy’s advance.

The questions that arise are not simply how far democrats should be concerned but whether there are specific implications for democracy assistance. While the answers are not yet clear, a strong case can be made on precautionary grounds for developing new ways of assessing the true measure of autocracy promotion/export and evaluating it against the performance of democracy support. Although setting a difficult challenge in its own right, this work could help move democracy assistance and democratisation forward in the challenging times that at present both of them undoubtedly face....

Added by View user profileIFES' ElectionG... on January 20, 2011