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January 2008

Public Opinion and Authoritarian Regimes

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Is public opinion a force for good government or not? If recent events in Burma, Pakistan and Georgia show anything at all it is that public opinion is ultimately  the basis of power and legitimacy. Which is something several political philosophers have told us for over 200 years, but it is fascinating to watch these struggles unfold.

And it explains why authoritarian regimes are always keen to control public opinion by:

Hard and Soft Skills

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In development practice today, when you ask ‘How do you improve governance systems in developing countries in order to improve the lives of the poor?’ the so-called hard skills dominate the discourse.  But what are these so-called hard skills? At their most mind-numbing these are number-crunching skills derived from a variety of quantitative social science disciplines. Beyond that these are skills in technical analysis and solution-finding.

Putting the Genie Back into the Bottle?

Henriette von Kaltenborn-Stachau's picture

The ethnic clashes that broke out after the announcement of Kenya’s Presidential election results have reportedly resulted in over 500 deaths and caused some 250.000 people to leave their homes and seek refuge in tribal homelands; some 3000 Kenyans crossed into neighboring Uganda looking for safety.

News Blackout in Kenya

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

As post-election rioting spreads in Kenya, the Kenyan government has taken the step of suspending all live television and news reports. A media executive quoted by CNN opines that the decision to suspend broadcasts has set back the democratic process by 15 years.
 
The decision to censor media during times of violence in order to avoid inciting further violence is a controversial one, with both backers and detractors in development and post-conflict circles. Some argue that such censorship saves lives and is therefore a necessity that outweighs any negative ramifications for free speech; others argue that such decisions often prove short-sighted and may lead to additional rollbacks in civil rights and further democratic deterioration.
 

What do you think?