Guarini Institute Welcomes Leonardo Morlino for Distinguished Lecture

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Leonardo Morlino and Professor Tom Bailey

Leonardo Morlino and Professor Tom Bailey

On Thursday, October 2nd the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs hosted a lecture by Leonardo Morlino, Professor of Political Science at LUISS University in Rome. He was the President of the International Political Science Association from 2009 to 2012 and has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, Oxford University, and the Institute d’Études Politiques in Paris.

President Pavoncello opened the lecture by welcoming Professor Morlino to JCU. Philosophy professor Tom Bailey then introduced Morlino and gave a brief overview of his new book Changes for Democracy, published in 2011 by Oxford University Press. In the book Morlino discusses the intricacies and difficulties of democratization.

“We have been living in a period of change towards democracy,” said Morlino in his opening. This period of change refers to the past forty years, in which the number of democracies worldwide has grown from 43 in 1973 to 88 in 2014. Morlino’s research focuses on South America, as well as southern and Eastern Europe. He has conducted field work in Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and Uruguay during their transitions to democracy.

Morlino then discussed the mechanisms needed for a successful transition to democracy. He affirmed that citizen involvement is not a necessary element of transitions, citing Spain from 1936 – 1975. The Spanish people’s fear of Francisco Franco’s totalitarian state led to their acceptance of democracy. Morlino affirmed that participation is important, but elements like fear can also be big players in the transition to democracy.

According to Professor Morlino, there is no single recipe for a transition to democracy that can apply to every country, but there are certain key mechanisms that should be studied and utilized. Among these mechanisms are the role of elite actors, economic transformations, cultural and historical determinants, and international factors. He also discussed the obstacles that doom a country’s transition. He cited the Egyptian revolution of 2012 and the Arab Spring, which he now calls the Arab Autumn.

The lecture was followed by a panel discussion between President Pavoncello, Professor Bailey, and Guarini Institute Director Professor Federigo Argentieri. The audience was encouraged to participate as well.

Learn more about studying Political Science and International Affairs in Rome at John Cabot University.