chapter  6
23 Pages

Public support versus dissatisfaction in new democracies: An ‘inside challenge’?

WithRENSKE DOORENSPLEET

Let me start with the good news. At the moment, we are living in an era with an unprecedented number of democracies all around the world. The past 30 years have seen significant gains for the spread of democracy. In the beginning of the 1970s, not many people in Poland, Mali, or Spain would have dared dream of living in a less repressive country. In the 1980s, not many people in South Africa, Mongolia, or Czechoslovakia would have believed that their regime could soon be transformed into a more democratic one. Throughout most of the 1990s, democracy seemed to be an unreachable ideal in countries such as Indonesia. And yet, democratization came to these countries as well. The past few decades clearly were decades of reform; decades of change, often in the direction of more openness – not only of the economy but also of many political systems in the world. More and more countries have become democratic – all in a relatively short

period of time, although most of them after the end of the Cold War. Already in 1991, Dankwart Rustow claimed in an interview that:

[This worldwide change] is probably as close to a truly global turning point as we’ve ever seen. The world is becoming more unified than ever before, and democracy has become a strong, possibly irresistible force. This is the first time in history there is no legitimate alternative to democracy.