Southeast Asia, an economically dynamic and strategically vital region, seemed until recently to be transiting to more democratic politics. This progress has suddenly stalled or even gone into reverse, requiring that analysts seriously rethink their expectations and theorizing. The Routledge Handbook of Southeast Asian Democratization provides the first book-length account of the reasons for democracy’s declining fortunes in the region today. Combining theory and case studies, it is structured in four major sections:

  • Stunted Trajectories and Unhelpful Milieus
  • Wavering Social Forces
  • Uncertain Institutions
  • Country cases and democratic guises

This interdisciplinary reference work addresses topics including the impact of belief systems, historical records, regional and global contexts, civil society, ethnicity, women, Islam, and social media. The performance of political institutions is also assessed, and the volume offers a series of in-depth case studies, evaluating the country records of particular democratic, hybrid, and authoritarian regimes from a democratization perspective. Bringing together nearly 30 key international experts in the field, this cutting-edge Handbook offers a comprehensive and fresh investigation into democracy in the region

This timely survey will be essential reading for scholars and students of Democratization and Asian Politics, as well as policymakers concerned with democracy’s setbacks in Southeast Asia and the implications for the region’s citizens.

part 1|81 pages

Stunted trajectories and unhelpful milieus

chapter 1|21 pages

Democracy's mixed fortunes in Southeast Asia

Torpor, change, and trade-offs

chapter 2|14 pages

Dead idea (still) walking

The legacy of the “Asian democracy” and “Asian values” debate

part 2|140 pages

Wavering social forces

chapter 6|17 pages

Demystifying ‘people power'

An elite interpretation of ‘democratization' in Southeast Asia 1

chapter 9|12 pages

Civil society and democratisation in Southeast Asia

What is the connection?

chapter 10|23 pages

Ethnicity and democracy

chapter 11|16 pages

Islam and political democracy

chapter 13|22 pages

Hype or hubris?

The political impact of the Internet and social networking in Southeast Asia

part 3|110 pages

Uncertain institutions

part 4|109 pages

Country cases and democratic guises

chapter 22|19 pages

Democracy in Thailand

Theory and practice

chapter 23|14 pages


Democratic consolidation and stagnation under Yudhoyono, 2004–2014

chapter 24|15 pages


From hegemonic to competitive authoritarianism

chapter 25|11 pages


Pseudo-democracy and the making of a Malay-Islamic state

chapter 26|16 pages


Transition, praetorian politics, and the prospects for democratic change

chapter 27|16 pages

Democracy and Vietnam