Start Consolidating the third wave democracies

Consolidating the third wave democracies

Political Science and the New Democracies of Europe.

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In this wide-ranging and influential study, Samuel Huntington analyzes the transition of some thirty-five countries, mainly in Asia and Latin America, from nondemocratic to democratic political systems during the 1970s and 1980s.

He refers to the widespread international push toward democracy during this period as the "third wave" (not to be confused with Alvin Toffler's "third wave" which became the byword of people like Newt Gingrich in the 1990s).

Put simply, ‘a wave of democratisation is a group of transitions from non-democratic regimes to democratic regimes that occur within a specified period of time and that significantly outnumber transitions in the opposite direction’ (Huntington 1993: 15).

This procedural approach makes classification of regimes as democratic or otherwise ‘a relatively simple task’ through applying clinical bench marks and criteria.

The acceptance of Huntington’s thesis will rest on whether the reader agrees that elections are the inescapable essence of democracy, or rather if one associates democracy with ‘fuzzy norms’ such as honesty, equal participation and power, and openness (Huntington 1993: 9).

Looking to the near future, Huntington is least optimistic about the countries of Mongolia, Sudan, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Romania, Bulgaria, Nigeria, and El Salvador.