Establishing the Frontiers: Why Does Democracy Emerge and Survive?
This chapter explains the extent and strength of democracy in the world today, bearing in mind the fact that the concept of democracy is a highly contested one and that there is room for argument about where democracy ends and non- democracy begins. The United States could be seen as a classic case of liberal democracy, at least in procedural terms, with a variety of checks and balances to prevent the tyranny of the majority or of minorities. The term 'unconsolidated democracy' suggests that many countries will not reach the liberal democratic terminus in the foreseeable future, and will remain stuck at various points along the track. The term 'electoral democracy' is sometimes used to describe countries which hold relatively free elections but where rulers face few constraints on their power once they are elected. In Tropical Africa, the shape of democracy is influenced by pre—industrial, rather than post—industrial, conditions.