Democracy in East Asia: An Elephant’s Graveyard?

July 19, 2010
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm


Benjamin Reilly
Reagan-Fascell Democracy Fellow

Moderated by:

Marc F. Plattner
International Forum for Democratic Studies

Recent developments in East Asia challenge widely-accepted theories about democracy and democratization. In Southeast Asia in particular, expectations about preconditions for democracy, the role of the middle class, the relationship between development and democracy, and the effects of political institutions have all been called into question. Nonetheless, a convergence of democratic reforms across East Asia appears to be ushering in an identifiably Asian approach to democratic institutions and democracy promotion. In his presentation, Dr. Benjamin Reilly explained these competing trends across Northeast and Southeast Asia, and addressed the broader implications of this distinctive process of democratization in East Asia.


Benjamin Reilly is professor of political science at the Australian National University and a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS. He is the author of six books and over 60 journal articles and book chapters on issues of democratization, constitutional reform, party politics, electoral system design and conflict management, and has advised many governments and international organizations on these subjects. His latest books are a study of democratization and political reform in Asia and the Pacific, Democracy and Diversity: Political Engineering in the Asia-Pacific (Oxford University Press, 2006), and an edited volume, Political Parties in Conflict-Prone Societies (United Nations University Press, 2008). In addition to his academic career, he has also served with the United Nations, International IDEA and the Australian government. For the past four years he has served as the director of the Centre for Democratic Institutions, Australia’s democracy promotion organization.