FYS 101 Is Voting Enough? Worldwide Elections & Democracy

We often think of democracy as established when a country’s first free election is celebrated, as it was in Afghanistan, in South Africa, and across Eastern Europe, among many other places. But the story does not end there: questionable election procedures or disputed outcomes have prompted questions about the fairness of elections in places like Ohio in 2004, Mexico in 2006, and Egypt in 2010. Meanwhile, countries such as Russia and Zimbabwe hold elections but seem to lack other democratic institutions and rights. Given this variety, how are elections related to democratic rule? The course will explore this question from several angles. We will compare different definitions of democracy. We will ask, who gets to vote and what restrictions exist on doing so, both in the US and globally? Why do some places become democratic and others struggle to do so? Are flawed elections better than no elections? What are the effects of disputed elections on citizens’ perceptions of their government? What happens if undemocratic forces win elections? Should US foreign policy include encouraging democracy elsewhere?

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