chapter  9
38 Pages

Democratization in the noncommunist world

In 1991, Samuel Huntington published The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Huntington 1991). The thesis he put forward has been broadly accepted. It stated that democracy had advanced in fits and starts throughout modern world history. There have been three great movements or waves of democratization as more and more authoritarian regimes were replaced by democracies. The first of these waves occurred from 1828 to 1926; the second wave lasted from 1943 to 1962, and the latest of these waves began in the mid-1970s. Each of the first two democratic waves had been followed by an anti-democratic reverse wave as countries reverted to undemocratic rule. Nonetheless, reversals never equaled advances. Some new democracies remained even after the reverse wave had spent itself. Moreover, when failed democracies reemerged again during the next democratic wave, they were less likely to fail a second time even when a general reversal of democracy occurred. “Third-wave” democratization has occurred in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America against almost the full range of authoritarian regimes. Traditional monarchies, single-party states, military governments, and personalistic dictatorships have all found themselves under stress. As a result of this pressure, democratic transitions occurred that were forced, planned by the authoritarian regime itself, or negotiated. There have been rollbacks and stalemates as well as outright victories for democratic forces. In some places the struggle seems to have barely begun. Yet, in grand historical terms, democratic political actors globally met with unprecedented success, and democratization has not yet run its course. This chapter explores some of the major features of democratization movements in noncommunist states, leaving the democratization in communist states to the next chapter. This chapter examines both the underlying and proximate causes for the movement’s success, some of the strategies democratic political actors have used to promote the democratization process, and the task of democratic consolidation, as well as three case studies that illustrate different patterns of democratization. The analysis begins with a discussion of how authoritarian regimes were ripe for democratization in the first place.