Introduction: Sinking or Swimming Togethe
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book examines different explanations of the ability of democracy to emerge and survive, and of their relevance to present-day circumstances. It considers the global and international dimensions of democracy. Democracy began to flourish in Latin America in the late 1980s as the United States ended its support for dictators who were no longer useful as Cold War allies. The nature, varied characteristics and survival of democracy are never far from the thoughts of social scientists. Democracy had not been a Western imposition, but Western pressure had helped to bring the incumbent rulers to the negotiating table. The opportunities that democracy creates, and the problems it faces, clearly go beyond individual frontiers. Democracy appears to be the only sustainable form of government at the present time, yet it is under strain as ruling politicians become more and more isolated from their constituents.