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The end of the third wave and the global future of democracy

Publication Date
  • Political Science
  • Politikwissenschaft
  • Allgemeines
  • Spezielle Theorien
  • Geschichte Der Politikwissenschaft
  • Basic Research
  • General Concepts And History Of Political Science
  • Demokratie
  • Demokratisierung
  • Diskurs
  • Begriff
  • Politischer Wandel
  • Gesellschaftsordnung
  • Sozialer Wandel
  • Politisches System
  • Demokratieverständnis
  • Democracy
  • Democratization
  • Discourse
  • Concept
  • Political Change
  • Social Structure
  • Social Change
  • Political System
  • Conception Of Democracy
  • Economics
  • Law
  • Political Science


"The “Third Wave” of global democratization, which began in 1974, now appears to be drawing to a close. While the number of “electoral democracies” has tripled since 1974, the rate of increase has slowed every year since 1991 (when the number jumped by almost 20 percent) and is now near zero. Moreover, if we examine the more demanding standard of “liberal democracy” – in which there is substantial individual and associational freedom, civic pluralism, civi lian supremacy over the military, a secure rule of law, and “horizontal accountability” of office-holders to one another – we observe today the same proportion of liberal democracies in the world as existed in 1991. If a “third reverse wave” of democratic erosion or breakdowns is to be avoided, the new democracies of the third wave will need to become consolidated. Elites and citizens of every major party, interest, and ethnicity must accept the legitimacy of democracy and of the specific constitutional rules and practices in place in their country. In many new democracies, this requires a sweeping agenda of institutional reform to widen citizen access to power, control corruption, and improve the depth and quality of democracy. Elsewhere – as in China and Indonesia – rapid economic development and the gradual emergence of stronger, more autonomous civil associations and legal and representative institutions may be laying the foundations for a “fourth wave” of democratization at some point in the early twenty-first century." [author's abstract]

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