By Janet Gilbert Direct Response and Renewals Senior Coordinator For 25 years, Journal of Democracy has documented and analyzed democratic movements around the globe. Its role as the leading academic chronicler of democratic change continues with the newly released Volume 25, Number 3, a timely, thought-provoking special focus on Ukraine. Eight scholarly essays cover topics ranging from Russia’s involvement and the impact of the media to the far-right element and Victor Yanukovych’s misrule. In her essay “Finding Ukraine: The Maidan and Beyond,” Nadia Diuk, vice president for programs on Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Eurasia at the National Endowment for Democracy, explores the inception of a new Ukrainian identity:
“There is a notion in political science that the political system established after a revolution tends to take on the characteristics of the opposition that overcame the old order. If there is any validity to this idea, then the system incubated on the Maidan promises to be very different and more conducive to democracy than any Ukraine has seen in the past two decades.”
Co-editor Marc F. Plattner recently sat down to discuss the journal’s mission and the meaning of reaching a 25th volume.
Plattner also penned the introductory essay for the recent issue, featuring words which resonate with the general state of democracy in the world:
“ . . . democracy suffers from being a difficult form of government to establish, to sustain, and to make function well. Because of these difficulties, it faces constant challenges in newly democratic countries. So even if there continue to be revolts against dictatorship, there are also likely to be failed transitions and cases of democratic backsliding. It is reasonable to expect that the coming years will see some countries crossing the line, in both directions, between weak democracy and weak authoritarianism.”
The special section on Ukraine demonstrates the timeliness of content in the Journal of Democracy, which has only grown in importance over the past 25 years and will provide important perspectives going forward. As Diuk writes, “What starts in Kyiv never seems to stay in Kyiv.” Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he directs the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Marc F. Plattner is vice president for research and studies at the National Endowment for Democracy. Plattner and Diamond are coeditors of the Journal of Democracy.