There are many transitions to choose among, but DIPD settled on Serbia, South Africa, Turkey and Indonesia. In their contributions, the writers trace a journey aimed at building democracies and bringing people to the center of power. We accompany the political activist, the political scientist, and the political party chief on the journey they have taken, and they generously share with us the challenges, dilemmas, choices and victories that they encountered on the transition road.
Grand theories of the pre-conditions for successful transition may be both possible and useful, but we have chosen to listen to the testimonies of four unique cases, which not surprisingly also point to some of the universal truths regarding democratic transitions: the intense power struggle, the violability of the situation, the human suffering, the hope and despair.
Thus, it is not easy to get a firm hold on this strange creature called ‘transition’ and the transitional journey is often totally unpredictable. The first step would often come unannounced (and often under the radar screen even for academics and political commentators); it could an initiative by committed citizens, a proposal by well organized political parties or reforms proposed by progressive military chiefs, leading to a series of events that would result in more fundamental political transformation.
The stories and testimonies presented from different countries in this DIPD Reader confirm this. They also provide us with a sense of the different national realities that shaped the transitional process.