Center on Democratic Performance hosts
Conference on the Dynamics of Party Position Taking
Friday, March 23rd, 2007 - Saturday, March 24th, 2007
at the Grand Royale Clarion, Conference Room
For information please contact CDP Research Associate Brandon C. Zicha at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the conference website.
CDP's Founding Director Publishes New Book
Piecing a Democratic Quilt
Regional Organizations and Universal Norms
Edward McMahon, founding director of the CDP, and his coauthor Scott Baker have recently published a rigorous and timely study of the role of regional international organizations in the promotion of democracy and democracy-building. McMahon and Baker emphasize the importance of developing international norms on democracy and regional organizations for encouraging states to adhere to democratic principles.
After retiring as acting director of our center in 2003 to a position on our advisory board, McMahon was awarded a research professorship at the University of Vermont.
Edward McMahon also serves as a Senior Research Associate at Freedom House, a consultant for the United States Department of State, USAID and the World Bank on a variety of democracy and governance-related issues.
A general consensus maintained by both academic and policy communities contends that the transformation of societies from autocratic to democratic governments is beneficial to the global community. Conventional wisdom, that is, suggests that democratic societies function better internally and externally than their non-democratic counterparts. However, there are many questions that pose knotty problems for the scholar and practitioner of democratic politics. Human rights – broadly defined – and patterns of representation are two such areas.
The mission of the Center on Democratic Performance is to evaluate the performance of democracies on a number of critical dimensions, such as civil conflict and its management, human rights, voting rights, and political representation. Understanding how democracies address these issues and confront challenges associated with them will help to facilitate remedies geared toward buttressing democratic institutions rather than dismantling them. We have two substantive agendas: a) the relationship between human rights and democratic processes and b) how individual representation influences outcomes in democratic societies. Based on the widely held belief that respect for human rights is paramount to a fully formed democracy, the Center focuses on human rights practices and whether respect for the individual must precede or follow the transformation to democratic rule.
Although we encourage and promote a wide-ranging discourse, we address some specific contextual questions:
- Should the provision of human rights precede or follow democratic rule?
- Is democracy the ultimate goal in all countries? Are democracy's virtues culturally specific?
- What characteristics are generally associated with coup-prone, civil war-prone, and peaceful societies?
- How do women's and worker's rights influence socio-political practices in democratic and non-democratic countries?
- In what ways does minority districting and other forms of gerrymandering impact the performance of democratic societies?
- How does public access to the political process affect political representation? For example, what is the role of campaign finance in the political process?
The Center's goals are to facilitate new ways of thinking about these questions through substantive analysis, to train future scholars and practitioners, and to communicate effectively among the research, non-profit, and policy-making communities.