Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Books on Elections and Electoral Processes in Asia

Here are six books selected from our wide range of books on elections and electoral processes in Asia:
  • Elections in Asia: Making Democracy Work? by Simon Tay and Yeo Lay Hwee. This book explores the significance of elections and the implications for the development of democracy in Asia. Individual chapters contributed by experts and observers focus on recent elections in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Taiwan and India, while three other essays discuss the wider issues of democracy at work in Asia. The contributions discover how elections pave the way for working systems of democracy and if recent elections across the region have improved the conditions for democratic governance and the lives of ordinary citizens. The contributors also discuss the future of democracy - whether it will continue to progress in Asia, or face major setbacks. This book also looks beyond theories of democracy and the politicking to examine the rules of democracy as practised in Asian countries, and offers an assessment of the longer-term implications of elections and progress of democracy in Asia.
  • The Hidden Costs Of Clean Election Reform by Frederic Charles Schaffer. In this book, Federic Schaffer examines how tinkering with the electoral process, in an effort to "clean up" elections, can easily damage democratic ideals instead. Drawing on evidence from the Philippines as well as other countries, Schaffer investigates why citizens sometimes find themselves alienated or abruptly disenfranchised, and how election reforms have, whether intentionally or accidentally, harmed the quality and experience of democracy. These cases include anti-vote-buying civic education campaigns and voter registration reform in the Philippines, efforts to insulate voters from outside influence in nineteenth-century France, the purge of supposed felons from the voter roles of Florida ahead of the 2000 US presidential election, and debates over the reliability and security of electronic voting machines. With references and index.
  • Days of Being Wild: GE2006, Walking The Line With The Opposition by Dana Lam. An innovative approach to Singapore's 2006 General Elections and the country's electoral history is demonstrated in this well presented and unusual book. The first section, "Come On and Shout" is an account of GE2006 interwoven with apt quotations from participants and commentators that offer insights into personal, often ignored reactions and other undercurrents. The history of the Workers' Party is set out and there is a detailed diary of the Party's planning and activities until, despite an overall increase in support, only one Workers' Party member was elected on 6 May 2006. A great deal of information and tabulated data on election procedures, Singapore's political history, the course of party politics, and access to politically relevant written and Internet resources is included.
  • Old vs New Politics in Malaysia: State and Society in Transition by Francis Loh Kok Wah. These 27 thoughtful essays were written 1986-2006 in the monthly 'Aliran' by the Penang academic and political scientist Francis Loh Kok Wah. Written for non-specialists they address some urgent and/or ongoing issues. The sections are on: Politics: old and new; Elections and electoral process; Politics in Sabah; Human Rights and freedom; Ethno-religious relations; and Media, education and development.
  • Electoral Processes and Governance in South Asia edited by Dushyantha Mendis. This book contains papers presented by experts at an international conference on electoral processes and governance in South Asia organised by the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka in 2002. Countries selected for study were Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The papers explore the electoral processes as they actually operate in South Asia, and discuss the reasons for the flaws in these systems and the degrees of success or failure in attempts at reform. With notes, bibliography and index.
  • Elections as Popular Culture in Asia by Chua Beng Huat. Conventional political science depicts legitimate elections as rational affairs in which informed voters select candidates for office according to how their coherently presented aims, ideologies and policies appeal to the self-interest of the electorate. In reality elections, whether in first world democracies, or in the various governmental systems present in Asia, can more realistically be seen as cultural events in which candidates' campaigns are shaped, consciously or unconsciously, to appeal to the cultural understanding and practices of the electorate. The election campaign period is one in which the masses are mobilised to participate in a range of cultural activities, from flying the party colours in noisy motorcycle parades to attending political rallies for or against, or simply to be entertained by the performances on the political stage, and to gambling on the outcome of the contest. The essays in this book analyse electioneering activities in nine Asian countries (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, India, South Korea, and Japan) in terms of popular cultural practices in each location, ranging from updated traditional cultures to mimicry and caricatures of present day television dramas. In presenting political election as an expression of popular culture this book portrays electoral behaviour as a meaningful cultural practice. As such this book will appeal to student and scholars of political science and cultural studies alike, as well as those with a more general interest in Asian studies.

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