Asian Journal of Comparative Politics

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • Secular authoritarian regimes and their Islamist rivals in the Middle East and North Africa: Emerging trends in Turkey's party system

    Secular nationalism grew over 50 years to become a compelling force for political, social, and cultural change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), but it was Islamism that rose to be its chief rival and, in many Middle East countries, eventually replaced it. The question is: why? And how did Islam gain political momentum? Since independence, the diktat of most single-party countries in MENA has been to implement modernization and secularization. Unlike the secular elites, which sought to overthrow colonialism and the monarchies, the early Islamic reformers sought to establish an Islamic state. MENA's secular regimes led to the massive institutionalization of national identity by nationalizing economies and education, to create a unified ideology from which people could draw a common identity. While eliminating competing ideologies, governments ignored the conservative right in the form of Islamism, which was not expected to pose a serious challenge to them. However, since MENA regimes were mostly authoritarian and forestalled a viable opposition, a social cleavage from below grew as an Islamic movement and eventually presented a serious challenge to them. This article provides an empirical analysis to support the argument that social cleavages in MENA have cultural implications that relate to identity rather than to territory. Hence, latent political cleavages, such as Islamism and ethnic nationalism, served as opportunities to reinforce or reactivate cleavages.

  • When domestic interests and norms undermine the rules-based order: Reassessing Japan's attitude toward international law

    It has been widely acknowledged that Japan is a full and equal member of the international legal order as it stands, asserting its postwar identity as a responsible and law-abiding member of the international community. However, this essay argues that Japan's external compliance with a rules-based order and international legal norms is not reflected in corresponding domestic practices. The article provides a social constructivist grounded in-depth analysis of the various interests and constraints that have shaped Japan's domestic response to international legal norms. The selected five comparative case studies—Non-proliferation Treaty obligations, whaling policies, the detention and deportation of asylum seekers, the dumping of radioactive waters into the high seas off Fukushima and sovereignty claims over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands—suggest that pragmatic nationalism and cultural norms undermine Japan's commitment to the rules-based order.

  • Comparing regime types – ‘most similar’ cases in East Asia

    The People's Republic of China (PRC), the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong, the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Singapore represent different types of political regimes and provide a fascinating contrast concerning their performance with regard to the global conflict between liberal democracies and autocracies. This paper examines briefly their common historical backgrounds and provides a detailed analysis of common ‘Asian’ cultural features and popular support for democracy on the micro-level. It then systematically assesses their performance concerning liberal democracy and quality, governance scores, and socio-economic development. Finally, the reactions to the Covid-19 pandemic are documented showing again specific regime characteristics. We use most recent V-Dem, World Bank, United Nations Development Programme, World Values Surveys and similar data. The conclusions point to possible international consequences and the crucial position of Taiwan.

  • Deinstitutionalization of the Congress ‘party system’ in Indian competitive politics

    The conference in Poona that led to the foundation of Indian National Congress in 1885 aimed to serve as the germ of a native parliament to provide a reply to the assertion that India was still unfit for any form of representative institution. It spearheaded the Indian independence movement and post 1947 ushered in a ‘Congress system’ of one-party dominance that represented a historical consensus with few parallels in any political party system in the world. Dialectical contradiction has been a historic recurrence in the Congress as ‘personality cults’ of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi in the early years and a ‘high command culture’ later on decimated its hegemonic power in competitive party politics. The Congress declined due to a deficit of political vision, lack of forward-thinking ideas, engagement in competitive pseudo-secularism and diminishing electoral returns of dynastic (Nehru-Gandhi) politics. The institutionalization of BJP as a dominant party in 2014 coincided with the deinstitutionalization of the Congress party system. The grand old party needs to relegitimize itself by revamping its ideology, formulating a populist model of governance, creating son-of-the-soil leadership, revitalizing the party system, re-engaging with citizens, altering its politics to meritocracy and embracing new age electoral grammar.

  • The protest voting behaviour among local voters in the 2020 Surakarta mayoral election

    This research explores the protest voting phenomenon in the Surakarta, Indonesia, mayoral election in response to political oligarchy. It uses a qualitative method, and the data analysis uses NVivo 12 Plus software. The findings reveal that the protest voting movement in the Surakarta mayoral election occurred as an effort to resist political parties. The protest vote made ballots invalid, showing no trust in candidates. Political parties practiced oligarchy by jointly endorsing the president's active son as a candidate. The parties had no initiative in bringing up alternative candidates due to the pragmatism of powers. Then, this political oligarchy became headline news. This research implies that public trust in political parties as instruments of democracy has increasingly degraded due to the parties’ pragmatic behavior. Moreover, voters have understood that oligarchic practices must be resisted in order to select ideal leaders.

  • COVID-19: Exacerbating Pakistan's economic problems – a critical analysis using the dependency paradigm

    Pandemics have been a recurrent phenomenon throughout the course of history. However, the levels of fear and hysteria brought by the COVID-19 outbreak, forcing regimes across the globe to impose stringent lockdowns, had never been witnessed before. While these lockdowns proved beneficial in reducing both the infection and mortality rate, they created an impossible environment for governments across the globe to effectively and efficiently govern, which in turn gave birth to numerous economic challenges, especially in developing countries like Pakistan. In Pakistan, where the common person was already finding it very difficult to makes ends meet, the pandemic incurred tremendous economic hardships like unemployment, poverty and decline in per capita income. Consequently, Pakistan's economy struggled as it experienced a negative economic growth rate, inflation and a significant reduction in exports. As a by-product of the economic crunch, the flawed Pakistani governance system came under the spotlight, as it found itself struggling to tackle the day-by-day worsening situation. Strikingly, due to the infamous longstanding province–centre rift, Pakistan was neither able to promulgate an effective unified lockdown strategy nor to provide basic necessities to its citizens. This article analyses the governance and economic problems faced by Pakistan due to the COVID-19 outbreak from the prism of the dependency paradigm, which highlights the exploitative nature of developed–developing/underdeveloped states. Also, it provides policy prescriptions to strengthen Pakistan's economic system to deter future pandemics.

  • An inquiry into the Pakistani statecraft in tackling COVID-19

    As the second largest country in South Asia, Pakistan has succeeded relatively well in tackling COVID-19 after it broke out in 2020. Due to this, it is necessary to inquire into Pakistan's statecraft to find out how it responded to the pandemic issue, first domestically and then globally. As one of the key neighboring countries of China where the large-scale pandemic started, Pakistan has been very vulnerable to the epidemic. However, the Pakistani government led by Imran Khan has achieved a remarkable record in controlling COVID-19. No doubt, the domestic progress in Pakistan is destined to enhance its reputation abroad. For example, the international community has extended encouraging words and deeds to Pakistan, while some developed EU countries have policies designed by Pakistani Goverment because Islamabad has adopted successful social security and financial stimulus strategies. This study aims to give a balanced understanding of what policy, approaches, and strategies have been used by the current ruling elites of Pakistan; and how the domestic achievements have effectively bolstered its prestigious image on the global stage.

  • The irony of Indonesia's democracy: The rise of dynastic politics in the post-Suharto era1
  • Political dynasties and democratization: A case study of Taiwan

    Political families in transitional societies are often seen in the context of corruption, democratic regression, deterioration of socio-economic development, inequality, and deprivation. High levels of dynasticism, however, also exist in advanced democratic societies. Using the example of Taiwan, this article explores the factors behind the evolution of electoral dynasties and how the behavior of hereditary politicians has been conditioned by democratization. More specifically, the article argues that legacy politicians are not per se the Pandora’s box of low-quality politics. Rather, they act like other networks of personal relations. As such, self-imposed ethical standards and inherited cultural norms may substantially restrain the intrinsic particularistic potentials of such networks, but in the long run only political modernization can prevent them from cultivating political capitalism—the predatory use of public resources. That is, political modernization conditions the behavior of electoral dynasties. It transforms particularistic networks into more progressive and programmatic forms of dynasticism.

  • Introduction: Political dynasties in Asia

    This Special Issue seeks to understand the formation and development of Asian political dynasties that extended or continue to extend power through at least two generations by comparing and contrasting the experiences of eight select country cases in the region. The Issue concentrates on “political dynasties” rather than “political families” because we examine the chronological extension of clout by a kinship group over the geographical unit in which it resides rather than simply the nuanced power relations of the political family in stasis. We also focus on dynasties as political families in motion—not political families at one point in time. The study is crucial because it enhances comprehension of the Asian family dynasty's role as a political institution in the age of elections. Such research remains uncommon.

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