MEMO #2: Katrine Stevnhøj

“Protest movements have played key roles in democratisation processes”
– Katrine Stevnhøj  




What characteristic of democracies deserve greater awareness and appreciation?



Read Katrine Stevnhøj’s answer: 

“Protest and social movements play important roles in democratic societies. By voicing injustice, prejudices, or lack of rights and liberties, protest actors influence both political decisions and social norms. In other words, protest and social movements have become an integral part of modern democratic societies. For the same reason, some researchers have referred to movement societies to describe the role, which protests plays in the modern-day democracy.



The right to peaceful assembly is essential in a democratic society. In authoritarian regimes, however, protest plays a vastly different role. Here, participation in even peaceful forms of protest is most often associated with considerable risk as well as a marginal chance of creating genuine political change. Authoritarian leaders can resort to various repressive tools with the aim of preventing and curbing popular mobilisation, including restricting freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, controlling information flows, and, in severe cases, using political violence and fear as means of repression.



Despite the narrow space of opportunity and marginal chances of success, protest movements nevertheless arise in authoritarian societies. In certain cases, protest movements have played key roles in democratisation processes. Examples of successful pro-democratic protest movements can be found amongst the so-called colour revolutions, for example the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004.”