Democratic Transitions: Learning from World Leaders

This publication is available in print and electronic format
20 January 2016
Sergio Bitar, Abraham F. Lowenthal (co-editors)
Club de Madrid

An initiative of International IDEA, Democratic Transitions: Conversations with World Leaders (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015), is a unique exploration of how countries become democracies.

The translation into the Myanmar language of selected chapters presents personal reflections on ending authoritarian rule and on democracy-building by seven former presidents on three continents who have played key roles in such transformations over the past 30 years. The comments, offered in individual face-to-face interviews, together comprise the first volume in any language that focuses on learning lessons from political leaders about promoting and managing democratic transitions.

The original English edition was co-edited by Sergio Bitar and Abraham F. Lowenthal and contains a Preface by International IDEA’s Secretary-General, Yves Leterme, in which he states: ‘What neither we nor others have thus far contributed is first-hand testimony from top political leaders about how transitions toward democracy have been achieved in different continents. This exciting publication fills that critical gap’. 



1. Chile’s Successful Transition: From Intense Polarization to Stable Democracy
Genaro Arriagada
Interview with Patricio Aylwin, President of Chile 1990–94 
Interview with Ricardo Lagos, President of Chile 2000–2006

2. Indonesia’s Democratic Venture: Problems, Prospects, and Remaining Challenges
Bahtiar Effendy and Mutiara Pertiwi
Interview with B. J. Habibie, President of Indonesia 1998–99

3. The Philippines: ‘People Power’, a Troubled Transition and ‘Good Governance’
Mark R. Thompson
Interview with Fidel V. Ramos, President of the Philippines 1992–98

4. Poland’s Great Experiment: Creating Democracy through Protests, Repression, Negotiation, Elections and the Politics of Zigzag
Jane L. Curry
Interview with Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of Poland 1995–2005
Interview with Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Prime Minister of Poland 1989–91

5. Spain: Transition by Transaction
Charles Powell
Interview with Felipe González, President of the Government of Spain 1982–96

6. Women Activists in Democratic Transitions
Georgina Waylen

Conclusion: From Authoritarian Rule toward Democratic Governance
Abraham F. Lowenthal and Sergio Bitar 

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