How Social Media is Changing Government and Governance around the World

If one was to count its more than one billion users, Facebook could be considered the third largest nation in the world. Twitter’s more than 200 million monthly active global users can communicate instantly with one another about any subject at any time. In this era of social media dominance, citizens, businesses, journalists and government officials use social media in a variety of ways: to praise or voice concern about their governments, to spread news, to engender action and to make government work smarter and better.

During this time of unprecedented social media use, how are social media innovations changing political communication, interaction between governments and citizens, and modern-day governance both domestically and abroad?

On November 25, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings will host an event to discuss how social media is impacting governance around the world. What effect is social media having on the public sector? How is it affecting the relationship between governments and citizens?

After the program, panelists will take audience questions.

Monday, November 25, 2013, 10:00 – 11:30 am

The Brookings Institution, Falk Auditorium, 1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC.

Welcome and Introduction

Darrell West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies, Founding Director, Center for Technology Innovation.


Faruk Eczacibasi, Chairman, Turkish Informatics Foundation.

Zeynep Tufekci, Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina, Fellow, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University. 

To RSVP for this event, please call the Office of Communications at 202.797.6105 or click here.

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Francis Fukuyama on ‘Democracy and the Quality of the State’

Why is it that some countries have been able to develop high-quality state administrations that deliver services to their populations with relative efficiency, while others are plagued by corruption, bloated or red-tape-ridden bureaucracies, and incompetence? And what is the relationship between the effectiveness of a state and democracy? Are the two mutually supportive, or is there a tension between good public administration and broad political participation?

In the latest episode of Democracy Ideas, Christopher Walker, director of the NED’s international Forum for Democratic Studies asks Stanford University’s Francis Fukuyama to explain and elaborate on “Democracy and the Quality of the State,” his article in the latest issue of the Journal of Democracy.

Democracy is of course an intrinsic good that would be valued regardless of its effects on policy outcomes. But legitimacy (or its absence) can also spring from state performance. Thus if we care about the health of democracies around the world, we must also care about the performance of their governments—that is, the quality of their state bureaucracies.

Modernization: Theory and Reality

The experiences of the United States, Greece, and Italy suggest that the process of political development democratic expansion of the franchise, when it takes place in advance of state modernization, can lead to widespread clientelism. Conversely, authoritarian states that develop modern bureaucracies early on are often in a happier position once they democratize, since their states tend to be inoculated from the dangers of political colonization.

In looking across these cases, one is led to ask why middle-class reform coalitions appeared in Britain and the United States, but not in Greece and Italy. There would seem to be at least three reasons.

The first has to do with the nature of economic development. Britain and the United States experienced classic industrialization, with newly organized industries drawing huge numbers of workers out of agriculture and putting them into urban environments where social life and the division of labor were completely transformed. Greece and southern Italy, by contrast, experienced what is sometimes called “modernization without development”—that is, urbanization not based on the growth of a vigorous industrial market economy. Under these conditions, the old rural order gets transplanted to cities, and there is no mobilization of broad new groups like a middle class or proletariat. Instead of Gemeinschaft (community) being transformed into Gesellschaft (society), Gemeinschaft is simply transferred wholesale to the city, complete with its rural mores and habits of patronage.

A second reason for the difference is cultural. The rising middle classes in Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, and Prussia/Germany were largely Protestant, and often had highly moralistic views about personal integrity. … The Progressive movement in the United States was fueled by old-line Protestants resentful of the way that machine politicians were organizing newly arrived Catholic, Jewish, and Orthodox immigrants in rapidly growing U.S. cities.

Finally, factors of leadership probably had important effects. In the years following the end of the Cold War, Italy had a tremendous opportunity to create a clean, modern state. The Tangentopoli prosecutions in the early to mid-1990s of corrupt Christian Democratic and Socialist politicians and of the Mafia itself could take place only after the end of Cold War polarizations. Instead of getting a Roosevelt or a Wilson, however, Italy produced Silvio Berlusconi and Umberto Bossi. The electoral base of both Berlusconi’s center-right party (Forza Italia, today part of Popolo della Libertà) and Bossi’s Northern League included precisely those middle-class groups that were fed up with the corruption of the old system and wanted change. But instead of providing a path toward state modernization and structural reform of the Italian economy, both leaders pandered to populist causes and protected their own personal interests. Berlusconi in particular legitimated a new form of media-based corruption that will weigh on Italian politics for years to come.

The experiences of the United States, Greece, and Italy further suggest that in the process of political development all good things do not necessarily go together. Democratic expansion of the franchise, when it takes place in advance of state modernization, can lead to widespread clientelism. Conversely, authoritarian states that develop modern bureaucracies early on are often in a happier position once they democratize, since their states tend to be inoculated from the dangers of political colonization. Whether it is worth paying the cost of authoritarian tutelage and military conflict that this route to state modernization often entails is a different question.

Finally, we need to ask whether Weberian states, once achieved, are permanently self-sustaining or whether they are subject to political decay. The state bureaucracies in China, Germany, Japan, and other countries have been remarkably durable over long periods of time. All modern states, however, are subject to recapture by powerful groups in society.

It would appear that political development is not a one-way ratchet that keeps turning in a progressive direction. Political decay remains an ever-present possibility.

Francis Fukuyama is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. This essay draws on themes in his forthcoming book, Political Order and Political Decay: From the French Revolution to the Present , to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2014.


This extract is taken from the latest issue of the Journal of Democracy. RTWT

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Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood ‘can bounce back’

MUSLIMBROSEgypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the military-backed government are both using the trial of deposed president Muhammed Morsi to wage an “image battle”,  says Khalil Al Anani, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington. The Brotherhood wants to portray the government as illegitimate, while the military need to demonstrate its control.

“If we look at the political implications of this trial, it will deepen the crisis and increase the polarization in society,” Anani says.

Brotherhood resurgence?

“Still, it is too soon to write off the Brotherhood, which has re-emerged twice from supposed oblivion,” says Eric Trager, an expert on the group, based at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

Following the February 1949 assassination of Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, the group returned to political prominence through its support of the Free Officers’ ouster of King Farouk in 1952. Then, decades after President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s severe crackdown in 1954 that sent thousands of Muslim Brothers to prison, the Brotherhood resurfaced in the 1970s under the relative freedom that President Anwar Sadat afforded it, quietly rebuilding the nationwide command structure that enabled it to quickly win power once Hosni Mubarak fell in 2011.

There are three possibilities for a Brotherhood resurgence, Trager writes for The Atlantic:

First, the Brotherhood could establish its operational headquarters abroad and, during a less repressive period back home, rebuild its links with the group’s rank-and-file within Egypt through both digital and interpersonal networks. ….  Moreover, there are precedents for this strategy among Islamist groups: Ennahda adopted it during the 1990s and 2000s, when its leadership was based in London, and it quickly emerged as Tunisia’s leading party following the 2011 revolution. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood similarly moved what remained of its leadership abroad following Hafez al-Assad’s 1982 crackdown …. It is a strategy, however, that requires substantial patience. ….

Second, lower-level Brotherhood leaders could rebuild the group’s pyramidal command chain from the bottom up. After Morsi and his top-level Brotherhood colleagues are given virtual life sentences, leaders within the Brotherhood’s widely dispersed administrative districts—known as “areas”—could coordinate to elect new provincial leaders and, thereafter, new national leaders. ….

Third, lower-level Brotherhood leaders could decide to run for parliament as independents, thereby circumventing the ban on religious parties that will likely be in place under the new constitution. If Brotherhood leaders made this strategic decision, they might win an impressive number of seats. ….

“Each of these strategies, of course, depends on the Brotherhood accepting that the events of this summer are irreversible,” Trager suggests. “That’s not the kind of realism one expects in the short run from a profoundly ideological and power-hungry group.”


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The Internet and the rule of law

Carl_Bildt_2001-05-15Authoritarian regimes are seeking new ways to control, censor or block the emerging powers of their citizens to express themselves on the Internet, says Carl Bildt.

But surveillance activities in democratic states cannot automatically be given free rein, he writes for The New York Times:

Recent events have clearly shown that it is time to start an international dialogue on this issue. Let’s begin by defining the seven principles that should govern state surveillance operations on the Internet.

First, surveillance should be based on laws, and these must be adopted in a transparent manner through a democratic process. …

Second, surveillance must be conducted on the basis of a legitimate and well-defined aim, and should never be carried out in a discriminatory manner.

Third, the law should justify that surveillance is necessary and adequate to achieve legitimate aims.

Fourth, a sound proportionality judgment must be made, to carefully assess whether the benefits of surveillance outweigh its negative consequences.

Fifth, …..


Carl Bildt is Sweden’s minister for foreign affairs.

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A lesson for Arab Spring? Pakistan’s ‘slow and steady’ transition

Pk-mapAmid the suicide attacks, the enforced disappearances, and the sectarian violence, there is another story unfolding in Pakistan — a slow but steady transition to democracy that doesn’t entail the violent political upheavals rocking the Arab Spring countries like Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain, says Sheila Fruman, formerly Senior Resident Country Director for the National Democratic Institute for Pakistan, based in Islamabad from 2006-2010.

Yet Pakistan’s “long march” to democracy may well hold important lessons for countries struggling to make a similar shift from a deep-rooted history of dictatorship to democracy, she writes for Foreign

The late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, both in exile at the time, signed the Charter of Democracy. The Charter bound their two parties, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to “play by the rules” and implement key reforms to strengthen democratic practices regardless of which party won the next election. The agreement marked a decisive turning point, ushering in a new spirit of cooperation based on the mutual recognition that political unity was the only way to end dictatorship and restore democracy.

The country still faces daunting challenges from terrorism, sectarianism, ethnic unrest, regional disputes, and poverty, notes Fruman, currently a Visiting Research Scholar at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies graduate center at City University of New York.

The ongoing peaceful transition to democracy is a stark contrast to the violent upheavals devastating other countries struggling to throw off dictatorships. The unity the PPP and PML-N demonstrated in the Charter of Democracy was profoundly significant and set a democratic tone which showed that strong political parties and political leadership are vital for a peaceful, stable, and sustainable transition from dictatorship to democracy.

NDI is a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.


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