The course aims to stress the main problems linked to the transposition of liberal-democratic institutions in developing countries without Western cultural traditions. The course aims to identify the problems relating to the attempts of implementing liberal-democratic institutions in the developing countries, as well as the adaptation solutions possibly able to get democracy working.

Although democratic institutions spread in many countries after the end of the “cold war”, the differences in the economic, social and cultural background between developed and developing countries brought about important changes in both significance and working of such institutions. The lectures will examine: the main liberal-democratic juridical principles and institutions (for instance, separation of powers, rule of law, independence of the judges, electoral principles and systems, review of the constitution, and so on), the difficulties they run into and the changes they were forced to in their implantation in developing countries; as well as some forms of adaptation of traditional institutions in the light of the process of democratisation. The lectures will pay a particular attention to the following areas: Arab countries, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, but some interesting experiences will be considered also from Southern and South-Eastern Asia and Oceania.


  • Deepening the knowledge of both juridical principles and fundamental institutions of liberal-democracies
  • Understanding socio-political and cultural reasons making complex their implementation in countries without Western cultural traditions
  • Approaching to the knowledge of both the institutions in developing countries and the political and cultural framework conditioning them
  • Understanding the transposition processes of democratic institutions, the related difficulties and the reasons of both failures and successes
  • Developing skills of complementing each other the juridical, politicological, sociological and anthropological approach in the study of the items in question, in order to develop a good ability of critical and multidimensional analysis

Main items to deal with:
1 Historical introduction: institutions of the colonial system; impact of constitutional models of the colonial powers on decolonisation process; ethnical problems, economic and institutional underdevelopment and Cold War in the authoritarian regress since the Sixties of the last century
Thematic topics:
1 Democratic transitions after the Cold War, paying particular attention to Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa; in this last case, focus on the dual effect of French Fifth Republic model in French-speaking Africa
2 Transformations of parliamentary representation and problems linked to electoral process, party system and cultural background of the electoral body
3 The “Arab spring”, its institutional consequences and the persistent multiplicity of political regimes in the Arab world
4 State institutions and religion, paying particular attention to the Islamic world: the different developments of a not so univocal paradigm
5 State structure and “other” (tribal, ethnical, etc.) belongings: essays of institutional hybridization in some countries of Africa and Oceania
6 The importation of constitutional review models and the problem of their manipulation and/or the existence of meta-constitutional values considered higher than the same Constitution
7 Gender problems, rules about women in politics and features of the political representation: women’s role in the institutions