The New Global Marketplace of Political Change



The New Global Marketplace of Political Change
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


The author argues that Western powers that are organised around democratic political systems are now no longer the dominant influence of political transition and change around the world.

This compares to nearly three decades ago after the fall of communism when Western-style democracy was seen as the sole end point for political systems and that authoritarian political systems would inevitably become Western-style democracies.

The authors argue that Western leaders have been slow to recognise that the situation has fundamentally changed and are failing to see that non-democratic countries no longer want, or necessarily see it in their interests, to transition into Western-style democratic systems.

'A new global marketplace of political change now exists, in which varied arrays of states, including numerous nondemocracies and non-Western democracies, are influencing transitional trajectories,' he argues. 'Western policymakers and aid practitioners have been slow to come to grips with the realities and implications of this new situation.'

The author highlights a number of factors accounting for this seismic change.

They include a more competitive and fragmenting 'marketplace' for political systems and ideas in the early 21st century.

The nature and rapidity of political and economic change in the current era means that motiviations guiding political leaders in non-democratic countries toward one political system or another 'are highly diverse and hard to neatly categorise'.

Smaller non-democratic countries are more able to influence the political trajectories of neighbouring countries, compared to Western democratic nations, and there is now greater pushback from non-democratic countries to influence by Western powers.

Generally, the 'global marketplace' of political systems is characterised by a lack of shared set of norms, principles, or standards as to what constitutes a legitimate political system or set of actions, due largely to the macro shift of power and influence away from the West in recent years.

'In short, a new global marketplace of political change now exists," the author states.

'This marketplace is not a limited or temporary condition, an isolated, short-term flare-up of internationalized tensions in a few unstable countries. It is a widespread feature of the changed international political order that is emerging as a result of the global diffusion of power away from the West to “the rest.”'


Thumbnail image: edward musiak/Flickr

Thomas Carothers

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Oren Samet-Marram

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Published Date
April 20, 2015