The recent mobilisations for political democratisation in Taiwan and Hong Kong reflect a historical opening for decolonisation in East Asia. The 2014 Sunflower and Umbrella movements have prompted a re-evaluation of Taiwanese and Hong Kong identities. Firstly, the negotiation of democratic liberties addresses the enduring colonial and Cold War legacies which define their postcolonial political and economic structures. Secondly, the ‘China factor’ has prompted a reflexive civic consciousness that is revisiting the historical relationship with mainland China and the current opposition to its influence.
By Veronica Anghel | Bologna
In assessing the state of liberal democracy in contemporary Europe, significant scholarly and public attention has been paid to the role of leaders. Post-Communist countries in particular are often the focus of scholars who announce a ‘democratic backsliding’ engineered by populist ‘strongmen’. This article suggests that in consolidating EU democracies, such attention is disproportionate in reference to the actual de-democratising effect of the emerging ‘strongmen’. It draws attention to the systemic conditions that allow such leaders to surface, and focuses on state capture (the extraction of private benefits from the state by incumbent officeholders) as a joint-venture practice that precedes and outlives individual political lives and acts as a brake on further democratisation.