Africa Notes: Is Democracy Achievable In Russia and/ or South Africa? - August 1992
August 1, 1992
Of all the many nations struggling to cast off the burden of an authoritarian past, few face rougher paths to democracy than Russia and South Africa. Neither has the cultural habits, tradition, or history that would predispose it to democracy, and the societies of both countries have been deeply damaged by aberrational experiments in social engineering (communism and apartheid).
Yet both have now set off on the quest for a future in which government rules by consent and not coercion, and freedoms are guaranteed by law. Leaders of both nations-whether President Boris Yeltsin in Russia or President F.W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela in South Africa-profess a commitment to democracy that is absolute (at least at the rhetorical level). The next few years of political transition will sorely test this commitment.