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Semi-presidential democracy in East Asia

Reilly, B. (2008) Semi-presidential democracy in East Asia. East Asia Forum, November .

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Other Information: East Asia contains three of the world’s semi-presidential democracies (as pointed out in the latest APEC Economies Newsletter here) : Taiwan, Mongolia, and East Timor. Each of these countries is an unusual case of democratisation: Taiwan is one of East Asia’s famous ‘tiger’ economies and the world’s only Sinitic democracy, but faces an ongoing crisis of nationhood; Mongolia is one of the few unambiguous cases of a successful transition to democracy and a market economy in the post-Communist world; while East Timor is both Asia’s poorest nation and its newest democracy. Prior to their democratic transitions, each was also under the influence of a large foreign power — be it Russia in relation to Mongolia, Indonesia in East Timor, or China’s claim to sovereignty in relation to Taiwan. This is not a propitious starting point for a transition to democracy; indeed, in different ways, each country seemed to lack some of the essential preconditions for successful democratisation.
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