Prospects for democratic regime change in Cuba and Belarus civil society and political culture

Master's Thesis, 2008

69 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents


Chapter 1 - Theoretical framework
1.1 Civil Society
1.1.1 Civil Society Forces
1.1.2 Embryonic Civil Society
1.1.3 The Role of Civil Society in Transition
1.1.4 Civil Society - Regime Interaction
1.2 Regime Type
1.3 Political Culture

Chapter 2 - Totalitarist Cuba vs. Sultanist Belarus
2.1 Cuba’s Personalistic Communist Dictatorship
2.2 Sultanism in Belarus
Conclusion- Implications for Regime Change and the Role of Civil Society

Chapter 3 - Political Culture in Cuba and Belarus
3.1 Sources of Political Culture
3.2 Alexander Lukashenka, Keeping the Soviet Dream Alive!
3.3 Fidel Castro’s “Revolution” – National Unity and Social Values
3.4 Satisfaction with How the Things Go
3.5 Satisfaction with the Current Regime and Support for Democracy
Conclusion: Are “they” ready yet? - Implications for Democratic Regime Change

Chapter 4 - Civil Society in Cuba and Belarus
4.1 The Emergence of an Embryonic Civil Society in Cuba – slowly but constantly
4.1.2 The Varela Project and Oswaldo Paya
4.1.3 The Cuban Spring and Las Damas de Blanco
4.1.4 The Cuban Forum and National Dialogue
4.2 The Abortion of the Embryo- the Set Back of Civil Society Development in Belarus
4.2.1 The Political Opposition and Its Way towards Marginalization
4.2.2 The Character of the Belarusian Opposition
4.2.3 The Rift between the Opposition and the Belorussian Society
4.2.4 The Failure of Unification and the Loss of Strength

Conclusion- Learning from Cuba




Democratization spread around the world during the 20th century. A third wave of democratization took place from the 70s till the end of the century. Many countries in Europe and Latin America transformed into democracies. A lot has been written about this recent wave and the consolidation of these new democracies without looking at cases of stable authoritarian rule, and this selection bias causes conceptual problems.

The nontransition to democracy is the opposite of transition to democracy and not the transition to any kind of authoritarianism. To sort out variables promoting democratic transition scholars should examine cases of stable authoritarianism. “Good research design and logic require that scholars examine all outcomes on the dependent variable: regime stability as well as regime change”.[2] Countries which have undergone democratic transition should be compared with each other, but also countries which haven’t experienced such a transition should be included in democratic transition literature. “Most democratization theories have been built on successful cases, a problem that has been noticed only recently.”[3] “At its most basic level, the dependent variable in democratization theory has two possible outcomes: a transition to democracy and ongoing authoritarian rule”.[4] As a result of this selection bias no one can find any individually necessary or jointly sufficient conditions for democratization; a theory should try to do that. One might find the answer for a necessary condition especially while studying nontransition cases. This thesis therefore focuses on nontransition cases and uses a non-elite focus to show that there exists at least one necessary condition for a successful democratic transition namely civil society. Furthermore it will show how political culture as intervening variable is a useful concept to understand how civil society is able to act effectively.

When one looks at the democratic map of the world, there are countries still resisting any democratic transition and even consolidated their nondemocratic regimes. In this thesis I will focus on two of them. In the Western Hemisphere this is Cuba and in Europe, Belarus. “Although Cuba is only a single case, its regime has survived, over a long time, the rise and fall of many forces hypothesized to cause democratic transition. It therefore offers scholars the opportunity to observe different values of the independent variables over time”[5], or to identify new important and decisive variables.

Cuba and Belarus are conspicuously absent from major works. Cuba and Belarus, experienced economic stagnation or crisis, legitimacy crisis, and a lot external pressure, all factors that are held responsible to cause democratic transition. What is different in these countries? How come that after all waves of democratization, described by Samuel P. Huntington, those two states didn’t move towards democracy?

Democratization is understood as a three step process: a) end of the nondemocratic regime; b) inauguration of the democratic regime; and c) the consolidation of the democratic regime.[6] Huntington uses a procedural definition of democracy which means that a system is democratic when the most powerful collective decision makers are selected through fair, honest, and periodic elections. Candidates must be able to compete freely and almost the whole adult population must be able to vote. Huntington includes the concept of contestation and participation as well as civil and political freedoms in this definition. This includes freedom of speech and assembly, and freedom to publish. All those freedoms are essential to reach the status of free and fair elections and conduct political and election campaigns.[7] This procedural approach towards democracy in terms of elections is a minimal one. The question for democratization is now the replacement of a government which was not chosen by a free, open, and fair election. Free and fair elections are not the only factors defining a democratic system. They are good criteria to prove the inauguration of a democratic regime after the end of the nondemocratic regime, but they are not sufficient to reach the consolidation of the democratic system. Governments which had democratic origins may end the transition to democracy by restricting and influencing democratic procedures and civil, political liberties as Alexander Lukashenka did after he was elected 1994 in Belarus. The procedural approach as used by Huntington leads consequently to the idea that democracy is something achieved through the efforts of elites. This approach is “stripping” democracy of its normative ideals and reduces it to procedural principles.[8] To reach a consolidated democracy more than elections are necessary, so that major setbacks in democratic transition will be prevented.

His minimal approach in defining democracy is not sufficient to explain consolidation of democracy or nontransition like in Cuba or Belarus. Scholarly analysis, also Huntington, focused on structural pressures as primary causes for democratic regime change and democratic transition. These factors are socio-economic development, economic crisis and a favorable international environment.

“Despite socioeconomic development, economic crisis, and a favorable international environment-all structural pressures associated with democratization- Cuba remains stubbornly authoritarian”.[9] If economic development produces democracy by reducing social inequalities and increasing literacy rates, then Cuba is an anomaly. External actors or international influence are also seen as important but authors argue that those factors are of secondary nature[10] or tended to play an indirect “and usually marginal role”.[11] The case of Cuba shows that these pressures, even when they act collectively, are not sufficient to induce regime change. “The presence of strong structural forces and absence of democratization cast significant doubt on their explanatory ability. At best, structural factors operate only under certain conditions; at worst, they are irrelevant and can not distinguish between transition and nontransitions.”[12]

The general economic development and economic crisis, short economic factors, have a significant but not determinative impact on democratization. An overall correlation exists between the level of economic development and democracy (the economically most developed countries are all democracies), but it is in itself not necessary or sufficient to bring about democratization. Economic crisis can produce rapid changes, both positive and negative, and weaken or strengthen authoritarianism.[13] Wealth alone is not a crucial factor as many examples of rich oil countries like Russia or Saudi Arabia show. It is more crucial that economic development produces changes in social structure and values that can encourage democratization.[14]

Without discussing structural factors in detail one can say they obviously had almost no impact on Cuba or Belarus. The problem with those factors is not that they are not helpful to explain the transition of some countries towards democracy but that they cannot explain the nontransition of others.

Graeme Gill points out economic factors are “essentially enabling or precipating factors”, but that correlations don’t justify causation. Socio-economic explanations can establish the context for political action, but not the way political actors act “the way they do”.[15] Particular economic crisis have to be seen critical. Even though, it might be an important factor in breakdowns of authoritarian regimes, it is not sufficient to induce regime change. If the regime is in control of the society like in Cuba such a crisis might not matter. Cuba survived several economic crises, years of economic blockade from the USA and the loss of subsidies from the USSR. “Economic crisis alone is insufficient to bring down a regime; it is the flow- on effects from the crisis which are important”.[16]

Crisis of the regime because of performance failures is dependent on its relationship with the society at large. If it fears popular opposition the response could be liberalization even if popular activity is not apparent. This is a different view from the existent transition literature which views the role of the population only in terms of demonstrations, riots, strikes and mass movements.[17]

This thesis argues that civil society and political culture are major factors for democratic transition. If they are causal explanations for a consolidated democracy[18], like economic development, rule of law and elections, why they shouldn’t be decisive factors for the starting democracy?

The elite favored approach, used by Huntington, does not recognize civil society and political culture as major factors. It downplays other factors and the search for prerequisites of democratization. It focuses on a very short period of time of the actual transition from one regime to another. This excludes long term trends and developments. Such elite centered approach is focused on immediate actors and their actions. Individual or collective political actors are seen as the most decisive and attention to other actors is left aside as irrelevant.

This makes sustainable generalization and theorization impossible.[19] In line with Gill, I argue that the focus of analysis has to be widened to generate possible theoretical explanatory principles. One consequence of the elite focus is the low profile of the mass of the population and the non- political elite actors. Huntington and others recognize that civil society and mobilization of groups occur and are important for democratization but the major emphasis is upon elite political actors.[20] Masses play a significant part in structuring regime change, even when not consciously mobilized into the political process. Politics cannot be divorced from its social moorings. Elites are connected and attain their status first of all through their relationship with their assumed mass base. They are powerful because of the potential power of their support base. It’s the potential political capital they could bring on the streets which makes them influential. References to civil society as given in the present literature cannot be a substitute for a detailed analysis of society. Organizations are emerging within it and exercise considerably high pressure in favor for democracy. “It is such organizations, and the culture which sustains this type of organization, which is often fundamental for the progress toward democracy because it gives substance to the democratic aspirations of the populace and hereby represents the sort of moral pressure which is often influential in helping to structure the way elites act.”[21] Civil society must become an analytical tool.

Therefore the major analytical problem of this thesis is to show the influence of civil society and political culture on democratization. It is necessary to define what is understood by civil society and political culture, because definitional problems might cause the unfrequented use of these concepts in transition literature.

The major goal of my investigation is to find out which country might have better prospects for democratic transition by answering the question: Does civil society and political culture influence the democratic transition of Belarus and Cuba?

The dependent variable is democratic regime change and the independent variable is civil society. As intervening variables I’ll use the concept of political culture and the regime type, as described by Linz & Stepan to analyze the possible processes between the dependent and independent variable. This thesis is divided into five chapters. In chapter one I will define and theorize the independent and intervening variables: civil society, political culture and regime type and its implications for democratic regime change. Chapter two will present a comparative analysis of the Cuban and Belarusian regime. The third chapter focuses on the analysis of the political culture and the fourth chapter will examine the civil society. The last part will present conclusions.

Chapter 1 - Theoretical framework


As stated above the main focus of this thesis lays on transition to democracy and the role played by civil society as independent variable and political culture as an important intervening variable. The type of regime also plays a role because it is decisive for how the civil society can act in a certain country and the role it can play during transition. The first part of the theoretical framework will define and theorize civil society. In this part the role of civil society for democratic transition, specific characteristics and assumptions will be presented. The second part will concentrate on the regime type and the last part will theorize the importance of political culture for democratic transition.

1.1 Civil Society

Civil society can be defined as a set or system of self-organized intermediary groups that: 1) are relatively independent of both public authorities and private units of production and reproduction, that is, of firms and families; 2) are capable of deliberating about and taking collective actions in defense or promotion of their interests or passions; 3) do not seek to replace either state agents or private (re)producers or to accept responsibility for the governing polity as a whole; and 4) agree to act within preestablished rules of a ‘civil’ nature, that is, conveying mutual respect”.[22]

With this definition, as it will be used here, Schmitter points out four conditions for civil society: 1) autonomy in a dual sense from family and the state, 2) collective action, 3) no illegal usurpation, and 4) civility. The presence of intermediary organizations is a necessary evidence for the existence of a civil society, but no sufficient proof.[23]

Civil society consists of social formations with public status, which means the recognized right to exist. The most important feature is that they have to escape the subordination to state authority or governmental manipulation to “contribute to eventual democratization”.[24] Another important factor of such a civil society is that it has to be dispersed in the country and be able to concentrate by demand so that it will be organized for coherent collective action.

The elements of a civil society, autonomous groups and independent organizations, are likely to proceed before a civil society comes into existence. Autonomous groups are primary, temporally and logically. A public sphere and state recognition wouldn’t make sense without the existence of such groups. Civil society is result of the emergence of such groups. “In many cases, as a result of state opposition, this development is chocked off, and a real civil society does not eventuate.”[25] Gill points out to see such developments in terms of the growth of such autonomous groups, which he calls civil society forces. Civil society forces are the elements of an emerging civil society that is not yet fully legally recognized by the state. Until political activism by autonomous groups is accepted by the state they are called civil society forces. These are organizations that will be the core of civil society, if it will develop, but if not may nevertheless be active within the society at large. The recognition of their activities and the implementation of a civil society by one state is then an important step towards democracy. Such organizations usually precede the formation of political parties.

Diamond excludes organized actors like political parties from the definition of civil society because their primary goal is to win the control over the state or at least any position within it.[26] But parties can be allies in organizations and networks of civil society. In authoritarian regimes, where political parties still exist legally and perform democratic opposition they should be seen as part of civil society. Their organizational structure is useful to concentrate democratic forces. Until regime change or the first free elections, in which they compete for power, are established their cause and major aim is the establishment of such democratic transition itself. Moreover in communist-party states political actors autonomous from the state are required to contest the monopoly of power. The interdependence of the political and civil sphere in the democratic transition from state-socialist regimes demonstrates that political parties must be included in the definition of civil society.[27]

1.1.1 Civil Society Forces

Generally speaking, civil society forces are autonomous groups or organizations that are focusing on various interests of the society at large and try to enforce them by political activity. Therefore they first of all fight for the legal sphere in which they act and the recognition by the state. One of the main focuses of transition literature is political parties. They possess two sources of power. First, they possess political resources that can be mobilized into the struggle for democracy; and second, they can cause fear of the incumbent leader and have therefore negotiation power. Often political parties have international support, media outlets, funds, an organized structure and capacities. Many possess a historical tradition. Finally the growth of a stable party system is important for a successful establishment to a democratic regime. Again, their power ultimately stems from popular support. Political parties are often better placed than the regime to tap into the popular sentiment and are the most advanced form of civil society forces. “But, where such parties either do not exist or are very weakly rooted, this role of mobilizing the populace is rendered difficult to achieve”.[28]

Other actors then have to take this role in mobilizing the population and political parties are far not the only forces which could do so. Labor unions can play such a role but they are often not well suited because of their sectoral nature and regional divisions.

Another form, often mentioned in transition literature, is a social movement. The problem of such a civil society force is that it is mostly a loose organization and the difficulty for leaders to exercise control. Nevertheless, such movements can play a crucial role like Solidarnosz in Poland or Sajudis in Lithuania. Like a charismatic leader from the regime, a populist individual leader within the society can emerge. Such a leader will lack the same shortcomings as a social movement but can be an anchor for future developments.[29] Also NGOs can play a crucial role to promote democratic regime change from inside the country. For the analysis here political parties and social movements will play a more prominent role. Both forms of civil society forces combine characteristics of mostly all named above. Political parties as well as social movements are often lead by a charismatic leader, like Landsbergis in Lithuania (Sajudis). Social movements, like the two mentioned, can be also either starting point for new political parties or include political parties.

1.1.2 Embryonic Civil Society

In the state- society relationship civil society is the arena within social forces and class groups gain organizational form, and potential opposition to authoritarian rule is based. When oppositional elites engage into negotiations the currency or power they can put in is the support base they possess in the society. The growth of civil society within the development of interests, its shape and forms is a long term process and has to be seen and analyzed as such. This process itself is also shaping the role played by civil society forces in the transition. It is important to assess the degree to which civil society forces have been able to grow and develop under a particular authoritarian regime.[30] Civil society is the final stage of a development in which civil society forces gain strength and place their role in a democratic society. If civil society is not fully developed and only several autonomous groups or civil society forces exist one can speak only about an embryonic civil society. The recognition by the state is also necessary to speak about fully developed civil society.

Authoritarian regimes like Cuba or Belarus try to undermine the role of civil society or don’t even let it develop at all. In Belarus political parties and other independent groups are still legally recognized but heavily limited in their actions by the current regime.

In that case one might speak about an embryonic civil society because the functioning of civil society forces is limited by the regime and they are still striving for a fully functioning civil society. Civil society forces are important actors on the way from an embryonic civil society to a fully developed one. However, civil society forces will not cease to exist when civil society is in place, they will develop further, change or disappear. The existence (or absence) of such forces can be central to the prospects of regime change and democratization.[31]

The organization and development of civil society forces is fundamental to the capacity for them to play a part in the direct structuring of political development, particularly in the dynamics of democratic transition. Organization is the main factor of this capacity. Furthermore the strength of the embryonic civil society is important. If it possesses high degree of strength, regime elites have greater fear and this strength can become an important argument persuading the regime to induce political change.

1.1.3 The Role of Civil Society in Transition

“The existence of civil society is not a prerequisite either for the demise of autocracy or for the transition to democracy, nor is it ordinarily sufficient to bring about such a change in regime”.[32] The revival of civil society is seen as a result of the transition and not part of it. The role of political parties is highlighted with the convocation of elections and everything else is reduced to some form of “relatively spontaneous movements”.[33] This kind of elite focused approach divorces politics from society. This understanding fail to see elections as a result of a long term process in which civil society is playing a pivotal role in pressuring elites, of the regime and opposition, to change. Diamond argues that: “we must see democratization not simply as a limited period of transition from one set of formal regime rules to another, but rather as an ongoing process, a perpetual challenge, a recurrent struggle”.[34] He further says that only mass public can generate political pressure to bring about reforms. Elites cannot exist or emerge without a back hold in the society and consequently within civil society. Elites are not born (except nobility), they are made. However, a regime can raise its own elites to follow them but any pact between the regime and non-regime elites means that the society is involved. Non-regime elites must get their legitimating from somewhere. Without a support base their negotiation power would be very weak.

If party or social movement leaders are shown as elites in the process of transition the connection they have with their mass based is usually ignored. But, the only reason why such elites would be included into negotiations with the regime is because of the potential power they represent. It is the support base which constructs their political capital and the possibility to bring that onto the streets if needed to. The failure to see civil society forces as a link between regime and society leads to a misunderstanding and underestimating of the importance of elite- mass relationship. References to civil society as made by many scholars of transition literature cannot compensate a detailed analysis.[35]

1.1.4 Civil Society - Regime Interaction

The shape of transition is “determined by the relationship between the regime on the one hand and oppositionist popularly- based civil society on the other.”[36]

The nature of the regime and the strength of the civil society forces in this relation are crucial because they structure the opportunities for and the processes of transition.

The regime can be characterized as a unitary regime or segmentary regime.

A unitary regime has a high developed unity and mechanism to reinforce it. In a case of unity breakdown those can be applied rapidly and effectively. A segmentary regime is characterized by a weak unity with substantial differences between parts of the regime. Those categories should be seen as the ideal types each marking the end of an axis. The society on an axis like that can be put in the categories atomized and civil. Atomized means there is no public independent organization which enables citizens to pursue their interests; both independent of or against the regime. Popular control of the rulers is absent. A civil society at the other end of the axis means that there exists a sector of society in which independent organizations can function and interests can be pursued independently or even against the regime. Their activity is recognized as legitimate by the regime and public control over political life is established and exercised. The location of one country on these two axes will determine the prospects for transition. The more unitary the regime and the weaker the society, the less likely is democratic transition. The more segmentary the regime and the stronger the civil society, the better the prospects for democratic transition. The more unitary the regime and the stronger the civil society, the greater the prospects for a standoff and the escalation of violence. The more segmentary the regime and the more atomized the society, the weaker the prospects for democratic transition.[37]

This very simple system of the nature of the regime and the state of the society is a useful tool to explain democratic transition. It acknowledges the importance of elites on the one hand but it shows the crucial role played by non-elites and civil society on the other. Applying the above discussed understandings of the role of civil society will lead to a deeper comprehension of the transition process itself.

1.2 Regime Type

The variable regime type is one of the most important and often used concepts in transformation literature. As described above civil society forces do not act as a single player on the field. The prior regime type is therefore very important on how a transition to democracy may go and which paths are available. The regime type determines the room that is available for civil society forces to act and to develop. Linz & Stepan divide five major regime types and their characteristic. Democracy is one of them and as it the goal and not reality for the here analyzed countries this leaves four.

The most important defining characteristics they analyze are pluralism, ideology, mobilization and leadership. Those characteristics help to describe the character of authoritarianism, totalitarianism, post- totalitarianism and sultanistic regimes. Totalitarianism and authoritarianism can be seen as the two ends of a continuum of non-democratic states if one looks at the possibilities for civil society forces. The here most interesting part is how civil society forces or civil society can act, how much freedom they have to develop and consequently to answer the question which of the regime leaves the better advantages for a growing democratic civil opposition.

Two of Linz & Stepan’s five arenas of consolidated democracy could be named as important for this analysis, civil society but as well political society, since the concept of civil society used here includes political parties and even party alliances. In authoritarian regimes the civil society autonomy can be on a medium- high level and political society autonomy on the low- medium level. Compared to all other regime types civil society forces would have to widest room for any action and interest articulation as well as organization. In totalitarian regimes both autonomies are low; in post- totalitarian regimes civil society autonomy can reach a medium level also like in sultanistic regimes. Transition from authoritarian regime can be therefore much easier because a reasonable civil society can exist and some moderate political opposition as well. It is possible that an organized opposition in civil society and even political society exist. Those forces can demand early elections and transition can lead to a new democratic regime. In a totalitarian state there is no space for an organized democratic opposition or for regime moderates so that the transformation path is unavailable.

An interim government would be very unlikely in a totalitarian regime and any successor government would not feel much pressure to become more democratic because of the flattened civil society and the absence of an organized democratic political society. It is more likely that a totalitarian regime will first move to some form of post- totalitarianism.

In post- totalitarianism the picture is already different, a moderate wing within the leadership can exist and the democratic opposition can have a well developed “second culture” and initial political groupings. Transformation is highly possible and there is room for oppositional powers to convince leaders of a post-totalitarian regime to hold free elections. This is more likely the more mature a post-totalitarian regime is.[38] In early and frozen post- totalitarianism the most likely regime transition is mass uprising that could lead to a regime collapse.

A sultanistic regime is a more specific case. Nonviolent democratic opposition and regime moderates with sufficient authority to negotiate a transformation do not exist that would leave the transformation mode virtually impossible. External influence, especially the support of democratic forces could be an option as well as the upheaval of civil society.[39]

The characterization of the Cuban and Belarusian regime will therefore have important implications on how civil society and democratic minded forces can act and how successful they could be.

1.3 Political Culture

Political culture is “the attitudes, beliefs and values which underpin the operation of a particular political system”[40], or as Diamond states: political culture is “a people’s predominant beliefs, attitudes, values, ideals, sentiments, and evaluations about the political system of their country and the role of the self in that system”.[41]

Knowledge and skills about the political system are included as well as emotional feelings towards it- positive and negative. Judgments evaluating the system are also of big importance. One of the main problems dealing with political culture and maybe one of the reasons for the infrequent use as a variable is, that political culture can be used as a ‘garbage can variable’ to explain everything which cannot be put in any concept. It appears that it explains everything when in fact it is explaining very little. This can be seen with the term culture in general which contains ‘meaningful diffusity’. Everybody knows that something important is named but the danger because of many possible contents is that one is talking at cross purposes.[42] However, “cultural explanations can assist the understanding of how reactions to political events and developments may vary in different societies”.[43] Therefore political culture will be included in this thesis as variable. As intervening variable it is very helpful to understand the two particular cases of Belarus and Cuba. While looking at the attitudes, beliefs and values today one can also evaluate how much further support the regime could generate and how much support a democratic alternative would have. Thus, political culture can be seen as an interconnecting factor between the society and its organized form- civil society. One can assume that people need to have certain beliefs, attitudes and values to decide to get involved in some organized form.

Theories of democracy acknowledge widely that democracy requires a distinctive set of political values and orientations from citizens. Critical factors for regime change are beliefs and perceptions about regime legitimacy. They are of particular importance for the persistence or the breakdown of democracy. There are not only a positive relationship between economic development and democracy but also between political beliefs, attitudes, and values. They are an important intervening variable in this relationship. Political culture may not only be an important link between economic developments but also between the development of civil society and democracy.[44]

Why is political culture relevant to understand democratization? Political culture is seen as predetermining factor for political structures and political behavior. Elements of political culture are seen as resistant to change. Attitudes influence structure and behavior and are reinforcing attitudes and orientations. Therefore political culture affects government structure and performance. It can change dramatically in response to regime performance, historical experience and through political socialization. It can also be shaped and reshaped by various factors like changes in economic and social structure, international influence like colonial experience and by the practice of the political system itself.[45]

Political culture and political culture research is introducing the perspective of the people into the perception of politics. Political reality is to be perceived as from people interpreted reality. Not the blank facts but the perception and the processing of these are of importance, more specifically on the mass and not on the individual level. Political culture is an inter-subjective phenomenon. The research of political culture is dealing concretely with patterns of perception, interpretation, expectations, norms and values, attitudes and visions, knowledge and identities, feelings and standards of normality. Those are factors in the political daily life which influence the society or a part of it.[46] Attitudes, values and beliefs are shaped by the components of political culture that are classified into three orientations: cognitive, affective and evaluational. The cognitive orientation involves knowledge of and beliefs about the political system; the affective orientation involves feelings about the political system; and the evaluational orientation involves judgments and commitments about the performance of the political system, using information and feelings. Not all social groups must share the same political culture. Elites or different ethnic groups often have distinct values and norms.[47] Political culture lies in the polity sphere. In this sense political culture describes what one can legitimately do or not in a polity, how one usually thinks and acts, feels and perceives, what is expected from politics and how one defines himself as an actor. If the institutional framework is the hardware political culture is the software which with one can operate the system. From the quality of the software normally a lot of things depend. Where software and hardware don’t fit one can find a lot functional problems, like in a democracy without democrats as in the Weimarer Republik or some regime in developing countries.

Political culture is a very important factor how the society perceives and acts within a particular political system. Attitudes are important whether to show if a society supports a regime or not, if it seeks change and if yes how it should look like. Political culture has therefore a special impact on how civil society and civil society forces will develop. If participatory ideas are rather weakly supported civil society forces will lack support and strength. Also in the research of political culture the mass is mostly left aside. Even if elite political culture is crucial the people are as important for the standing of any regime, because they must be willing to accept or unwilling to oppose a regime. They have the power to do what is necessary to keep a regime standing.[48]


[2] Hawkins, D. (2001): “Democratization Theory and Nontransitons: Insights from Cuba”, In: Comparative Politics, Vol. 33, No. 4. (Jul., 2001), 441.

[3] Ibid., 442.

[4] Ibid., 443.

[5] Hawkins, D. (2001), 443.

[6] Huntington, S.P (1991): “The third Wave: democratization in the Late Twentieth Century”, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman and London, 9.

[7] Ibid.,7.

[8] Gill, G. (2000):” The dynamics of democratization: elites, civil society and the transition process”, Macmillan Press, Basingstoke; London, 88.

[9] Hawkins, D. (2001), 445.

[10] Gill, G. (2000), 34.

[11] Schmitter, P.C. (1991):“Introduction“, In: O’Donnell, G,; Schmitter, P.C. (ed.), (1991): “Transitions from authoritarian rule: tentative conclusions about uncertain democracies”, The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore; London, 5.

[12] Hawkins, D. (2001), 441.

[13] Huntington, S.P. (1991),41−59.

[14] Ibid., 65.

[15] Gill, G.(2000),5.

[16]Ibid., 11−12.

[17] ibid.,85.

[18] Linz, J.A.; Stepan, A. (1996):” Problems of democratic transition and consolidation: Southern Europe, South America and post−communist Europe”, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore; London, 479p. Diamond, L.J. (1999): “Developing democracy: toward consolidation”, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore; London, 362p.

[19] Gill, G. (2000), 80−82.

[20] Gill, G. (2000), 82−83.

[21] Ibid.,86.

[22] Schmitter, P.C. (1997): “Civil Society East and West”, In: Diamond, L.J.(ed.), Consolidating the third wave democracies: themes and perspectives, The John Hopkins University Press, 240.

[23] ibid.,240.

[24] Schmitter,P.C. (1991), 6−7.

[25] Gill, G. (2000),118.

[26] Diamond, L.J. (1999),221.

[27] Otereo, G.; O’Bryan,J. (2002):” Cuba in Transition? The Civil Sphere's Challenge to the Castro Regime”, In: Latin American Politics and Society, Vol. 44, No. 4. (Winter, 2002), pp. 29−57.

[28] Gill, G. (2000),61.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Gill, G. (2000),116-118.

[31] Gill, G. (2000),60.

[32] Schmitter, P.C. (1997),242.

[33] Schmitter, P.C. (1997),242.

[34] Diamond (1999),219.

[35] Gill, G. (2000),81−94.

[36] ibid.,8.

[37] Gill, G. (2000),121−122.

[38] Linz & Stepan divide post− totalitarian regimes in early, frozen and mature. 39 Linz, J.J.; Stepan,A. (1996), 38− 70.

[39] Linz, J.J.; Stepan,A. (1996), 38-70.

[40] Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics, Oxford University Press, Oxford; New York, 2003,414. 41 Diamond (1999),163.

[41] Diamond (1999),163.

[42] Dörner, A. (2003): “Politische Kulturforschung”, In: Münkler,H.(ed.), Politikwissenschaft Ein Grundkurs, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Reinbeck, 587.

[43] Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics, Oxford University Press, Oxford; New York, 2003,414.

[44] Diamond (1999),163.

[45] Ibid.,164.

[46] Dörner, A. (2003),591.

[47] Diamond (1999),163.

[48] Ibid.,172−174.

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Prospects for democratic regime change in Cuba and Belarus civil society and political culture
Vilnius University
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Prospects, Cuba, Belarus
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M.A. Nico Rausch (Author), 2008, Prospects for democratic regime change in Cuba and Belarus civil society and political culture, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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