Democracy in Central AsiaCompeting Perspectives and Alternative Strategies

Democracy in Central AsiaCompeting Perspectives and Alternative Strategies

Mariya Y. Omelicheva

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780813160689

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky


In recent years, there has been a regression of democracy and a growing resistance to Western democratization efforts within the governments of Central Asian states. To uncover the sources of the ineffectiveness of these efforts, Democracy in Central Asia focuses on the discursive aspect of democracy promotion abroad. It examines ideas, beliefs, and perspectives advanced by the US, EU, Russia, and China in the three Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, in addition to perspectives on democratization advocated by the governments of these states. The study illuminates competing presentations of democracy and explores how these competing ideas influence societies subjected to international democratization. Based on extensive fieldwork, survey, and focus group data, the book shows that what has been promoted by the US and EU in Central Asia is culturally unsound, inconsistent, and lacking in credibility for Central Asian societies and states. Democracy promotion policies have neglected important attitudinal changes in the Central Asian population and local understandings of regional and national needs. The book's commitment to the idea of democracy and democracy promotion as open-ended conversations to which political leaders, political theorists, activists, ordinary citizens, and academics can contribute debunks the notions of democratization as a given and as somehow removed from the struggle for power and domination. Moreover, this study shows that there are multiple ways of portraying and defending the idea of democracy and alternative routes to democratization.