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East, rivista internazionale di geopolitica
European Regional Master's Degree in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe
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Weak States and Pluralism: The Case of Moldova

Written by Lucan A. Way, this article apperead on the third issue of Vol. 17 of East European Politics & Societies in August 2003.
This article argues that Moldova's weak state, tenuous elite networks, and polarized politics have provided key sources of democracy in the post-Soviet period. In the face of a weak civil society, severe economic decline, civil war, low income per capita, and an absence of a democratic history, Moldovan democracy in the 1990s was stronger than in any other non-Baltic, post-Soviet republic. The country is best understood not as a struggling or unconsolidated democracy but instead as a case of failed authoritarianism or “pluralism by default.” In cases of pluralism by default, democratic political competition endures not because civil society is strong or leaders democratic but because politicians are too polarized and the state too feeble to enforce authoritarian rule in a liberal international context. In such cases, the same factors that promote pluralism may also undermine governance and state viability.


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