This book examines Western efforts at democracy promotion, reactions by illiberal challengers and regional powers, and political and societal conditions in target states. It is argued that Western powers are not unequivocally committed to the promotion of democracy and human rights, while non-democratic regional powers cannot simply be described as "autocracy supporters". This volume examines in detail the challenges by three illiberal regional powers — China, Russia and Saudi Arabia — to Western (US and EU) efforts at democracy promotion. The contributions specifically analyze their actions in Ethiopia and Angola in the case of China, Georgia and Ukraine in the case of Russia, and Tunisia in the case of Saudi Arabia. Democratic powers such as the US or the EU usually prefer stability over human rights and democracy. If democratic movements threaten stability in a region, neither the US nor the EU supports them. As to illiberal powers, they are generally not that different from their democratic counterparts. They also prefer stability over turmoil. Neither Russia nor China nor Saudi Arabia explicitly promote autocracy. Instead, they seek to suppress democratic movements in their periphery the minute these groups threaten their security interests or are perceived to endanger their regime survival.
This volume originated in the framework of the Transworld project funded by the EU’s 7th Framework Program for Socio-Economic Research (Grant agreement 290454). This book was previously published as a special issue of Democratization (Vol. 22, No. 3, March 2015).
1. Democracy promotion and the challenges of illiberal regional powers, Thomas Risse and Nelli Babayan
2. Democracy promotion and China: blocker or bystander?, Dingding Chen and Katrin Kinzelbach
3. Not as bad as it seems: EU and US democracy promotion faces China in Africa, Christine Hackenesch
4. The return of the empire? Russia’s counteraction to transatlantic democracy promotion in its near abroad, Nelli Babayan
5. Spoiler or facilitator of democratization? Russia’s role in Georgia and Ukraine, Laure Delcour and Kataryna Wolczuk
6. Undermining the transatlantic democracy agenda? The Arab Spring and Saudi Arabia’s counteracting democracy strategy, Oz Hassan
7. Local actors in the driver’s seat: Transatlantic democracy promotion under regime competition in the Arab world, Tina Freyburg and Solveig Richter
8. The noble west and the dirty rest? Western democracy promoters and illiberal regional powers, Tanja A. Börzel