Defining and Developing Democracy
Since April of 1974, when the Portuguese military overthrew the Salazar/ Caetano dictatorship, the number of democracies in the world has mul tiplied dramatically. Before the start of this global trend, there were forty democracies.
The number increased moderately through the late 1970s and early 1980s as several states experienced transitions from authoritarian rule (predominantly military) to democratic rule. In the mid 1980s, the pace of global democratic expansion accelerated markedly. By the end of 1995, there were as many as 117 democracies or as few as 76, depending on howpne counts.
Deciding how to count is crucial to some principal tasks of this book:
refining what we mean by.the term democracy; analyzing the degree of glob al democratic progress since 1974; considering whether democracy will continue to expand in the world; and determining what factors will shape the viability of the many new democracies that have come into being.
In a seminal formulation, Samuel Huntington termed this post-1974 period the "third wave" of global democratic expansion and has shown the central importance to it of regional and international demonstration ef fects.
The democratizing trend began in Southern Europe in the mid l970s, spread to the military regimes of South America in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and reached East, Southeast, and South Asia by the mid to late 1980s.
The end of the 1980s saw a surge of transitions from com munist authoritarian rule in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and a trend toward democracy in Central America as well. Final1y the democratic trend spread to Africa in 1990, beginning in February of that year with the sovereign National Conference in Benin and the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the African National Congress in South Africa.
By 1998 there were between nine and seventeen democra cies on the continent--again, depending on how one counts. Huntington defines a "wave of democratization" simply as "a group of [ transitions. . . that occur within a specified period of time and that significantly outnumber transitions in the opposite direction during that period."
He identifies two previous waves of democratiza tion (along, slow wave from 1828 to 1926 and a second, post--World War II wave, from 1943 to 1964). Each of the first two waves ended with a re verse wave of democratic breakdowns (1922--42, 1961--75), in which some but not all of the new (or reestablished) democracies collapsed. Each reverse wave significantly diminished the number of democracies in the world but left more democracies in place than had existed prior to the start of the democratic wave.
Will the new century bring a third reverse wave, challenging once again democratic ideas, models, and institutions?The normative perspective underlying this book is that democrati zation is generally a good thing and that democracy is the 'best form of government. However, democracy is not an unmitigated blessing. Dat ing back to Aristotle (and to Plato, who had even less sympathy for democracy), the key shapers of democratic political thought have held that the best realizable form of government is mixed, or constitutional, government, in which freedom is constrained by the rule of law and pop ular sovereignty is tempered by state institutions that produce order and stability.
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