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The Third Wave
Paul Bacon
SILS, Waseda University
Three Waves of Democracy
• In his book The Third Wave, Samuel
Huntington argues that there have been
three waves of democratization in
modern history.
Samuel P. Huntington
The Three Waves: When?
70
65
Third Wave of
Democratization (1974-?)
60
52
50
Second, Short Wave of
Democratization
(1943-1962)
40
33
30
30
First, Long Wave of
Democratization (1828-1926)
20
First Reverse Wave
(1922-1942)
10
Second Reverse
Wave (1958-1975)
11
0
0
1820
1830
1840
1850
1860
1870
1880
1890
1900
1910
1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
Huntington’s Definition of Democracy
• Huntington offers two definitions of
democracy that apply to different
periods of time.
• Definition 1
• -Applies to 19th Century.
– 50% of adult males can vote.
– There is an executive that either
maintains majority support in an
elected parliament, or is chosen in
periodic popular elections.
Huntington’s Definition of Democracy
• Definition 2
• - Applies to 20th Century.
– Virtually all adults can vote.
– Leaders are selected through fair,
honest and periodic elections.
The First Wave: Why?
•
Occurred mostly in Northern Europe and
white settler countries. The causes are:
1. Economic Factors:
– First countries to experience economic
development, industrialization and urbanization.
– Emergence of middle class.
– Decrease in economic inequality.
The First Wave: Why?
2. Historical events and
intellectual developments:
–
–
–
–
–
French Revolution.
American Revolution.
John Locke.
Montesquieu.
John Stuart Mill.
The First Wave: Why?
3. Religious Factors
– Over 75% of the countries that democratized in
the first wave had majority Protestant populations.
4. World War One
– Democratic countries defeated two large
authoritarian empires, the Austro-Hungarian and
Ottoman Empires.
– This produced snowballing, or a demonstration
effect, that encouraged the development of
democracy.
The Second Wave: Why?
• The second wave is largely related to WW2.
1. Imposition of Democracy.
–
Allied powers imposed democracy on certain
defeated countries, such as Japan and Germany.
2. Snowballing (demonstration) effect.
–
Some countries independently chose to be
democratic.
The Second Wave: Why?
3. Decolonization.
– Countries that had a number of colonies
(e.g. Britain, France, Holland and
Portugal) were severely weakened after
WW2.
– The United States pressured these
countries to give up their colonies.
– Many former colonies became
independent and democratic.
The Third Wave: Why?
• Some 30 countries became democratic.
1. Legitimacy.
– Democratic ideas became widely accepted.
– Authoritarian regimes could not solve economic
problems as efficiently as democratic countries.
2. Economic Growth.
– Higher standards of living and education
contributed to the expansion of the urban middle
class.
The Third Wave: Why?
3. Change in the Catholic church.
–
The Catholic church, which used to be a
supporter of authoritarian regimes, changed its
doctrine and practice and supported democracy.
4. Foreign Policy.
–
–
–
Expansion of the EU.
Promotion of democracy and human rights by
the United States.
Fall of the Soviet Union.
The Third Wave: Why?
5. Snowball (or demonstration effect).
– Early third wave transitions received
great media attention, which later
stimulated transitions in other countries.
Democratic Transition
•
Democratic transition requires three
components.
1. The end of an authoritarian regime.
2. The installation of a new democratic
regime (through elections).
3. The consolidation of this democratic
regime.
Democratic Transition A/a-d-D
A/a-d-D
A = stable, long-lasting authoritarian regime.
D = stable, long-lasting democratic regime.
a = unstable, short-lived authoritarian regime.
d = unstable, short-lived democratic regime.
Stable
Authoritarianism
Unstable
Authoritarianism
Unstable
Democracy
Time
Stable
Democracy
Processes of Democratization
•
Huntington identifies three different types of
democratization process.
1. Democratic transformation.
– takes place when powerholders take the lead in
bringing about democracy.
2. Democratic replacement.
– takes place when opposition groups take the lead in
bringing about democracy. Old authoritarian regime is
overthrown.
3. Democratic transplacement.
– takes place when there is joint action by the
government and opposition groups to promote
democratization.
Prospects for Democratic Consolidation
•
The following conditions facilitate
democratic consolidation.
1.
2.
3.
4.
Previous experience of democracy.
Relatively high GNP per capita.
Favorable external environment.
Democratic transition at an earlier, rather than later,
stage in the third wave.
5. Democratization via transplacement, rather than
transformation or replacement.
•
The following slides discuss each of these
conditions more in detail.
1. Previous Democratic Experience
• Huntington argues that:
– Some experience of democracy is better
than none.
– Longer experience of democracy is better
than shorter experience.
– The more recent the democratic
experience, the better.
Chart: Years of Democratic Experience
More than 20 years
Uruguay, The Philippines, India, Turkey, Chile
10-19 years
Greece, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Korea,
Pakistan, Brazil
1-9 years
Argentina, Honduras, Guatemala, Hungary,
Czechoslovakia, Grenada, Nigeria
Less than one year
Spain, Portugal, El Salvador, Poland, Romania,
East Germany, Bulgaria, Nicaragua, Sudan,
Mongolia
2. Level of Economic Development
• The higher level of economic development,
the greater the likelihood of stable democracy.
• Economically developed countries have:
–
–
–
–
More industrialized economies.
More modern economies.
More complex societies.
Better educated populations.
• These factors all help consolidate democracy.
Chart: Democracy and GNP per capita
Higher than
$5, 000
$2, 000 – $4, 999
$1, 000 – $1, 999
Spain, East Germany, Hungary,
Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria
Greece, Portugal, Argentina,
Uruguay, Brazil, Poland, Romania,
Korea
Ecuador, Peru, Turkey, Grenada,
Chile
$500 – $999
Honduras, Guatemala, El
Salvador, Nicaragua, Bolivia, The
Philippines
Less than $500
India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan
3. The External Environment
• A foreign country can have a positive
influence on democratic consolidation, if the
relevant foreign government:
– is itself democratic.
– promotes democracy in other countries.
– has close relations with the third wave country in
question.
– is able to exercise influence in the third wave
country in question.
Chart: External Environment and Democracy
Extremely
favorable
East Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece
Quite
Favorable
Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland,
Turkey, The Philippines, Guatemala, El
Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia,
Grenada
Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Korea,
Chile
Favorable
Unfavorable
Argentina, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Sudan,
Romania, Bulgaria, Mongolia
4. The Timing of the Democratic Transition
• Early = Indigenous
– Earlier democratizations are more likely to be the
result of indigenous causes, rather than a
snowball effect.
• Indigenous = Consolidation
– Democratic transitions caused by indigenous
factors are more likely to lead to consolidated
democracies.
• Therefore, Early = Consolidation
– The earlier a country democratizes within the third
wave, the more likely it is to become a
consolidated democracy.
First Dates of Elections and Democracy
Before 1980
Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ecuador, India, Nigeria,
1980 – 1983
Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras, Turkey
1984 – 1987
Uruguay, Brazil, The Philippines, El Salvador,
Guatemala, Korea, Grenada, Sudan
1988 – 1990
Pakistan, Poland, Hungary, East Germany,
Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Mongolia,
Nicaragua, Chile
Possible after
1990
Mexico, Soviet Union, South Africa, Taiwan,
Nepal, Panama
5. Process of Democratic Transition
•
•
Huntington identified three processes of
democratic transition; transformation,
replacement and transplacement.
Huntington argues:
1. There is more chance of a successful democratic
consolidation if elites from the previous nondemocratic regime are satisfied.
2. There is less chance of democratic consolidation
if the transition involved violence.
•
If the above statements are true, it follows
that transplacement is most likely to lead to
consolidated democracy.
Chart: Transition Process and Democracy
Type of Old Regime
Transition
Process
One party
Personal
Military
Racial
Oligarchy
Transplacement
Poland
Czechoslovakia
Nicaragua
Mongolia
(Nepal)
Uruguay
Bolivia
Honduras
El Salvador
Korea
(South Africa)
Transformation
Hungary
Bulgaria
(Taiwan)
(USSR)
(Taiwan)
Spain
India
Chile
Turkey
Brazil
Peru
Guatemala
Ecuador
Nigeria
Pakistan
Sudan
Replacement
East Germany
Portugal
The
Philippines
Romania
Greece
Argentina
Chart: Overall Prospects for Democracy
Most Favorable Greece, Portugal, Spain, East Germany, Uruguay,
Turkey
Less Favorable Czechoslovakia, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru,
but Supportive Honduras, India, Argentina, Brazil, The Philippines,
Poland, Hungary, (Korea)
Less Favorable Guatemala, Grenada, Nigeria, El Salavador,
Pakistan, Nicaragua, Bulgaria, Mongolia
Especially
Unfavorable
Sudan, Romania
Chart: Freedom Classification by
Freedom House (2003)
Free
Partly Free
Not Free
Greece, Portugal, Spain, East Germany,
Uruguay, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Chile,
Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, The Philippines, India,
Poland, Hungary, Grenada, Bulgaria, El
Salvador, Mongolia, Romania, Korea
Turkey, Ecuador, Honduras, Argentina,
Guatemala, Nigeria, Nicaragua
Pakistan, Sudan
http://www.freedomhouse.org
Further Democratization?
• Most currently authoritarian governments do
not have any previous democratic experience.
• Huntington is not sure whether the third wave
will continue or not.
• Huntington raises the possibility that some
cultures may not be amenable to democracy.
He suggests two versions of this “cultural
obstacle” argument.
Cultural Obstacles to Democracy?
• The two versions of the “cultural obstacle”
argument.
• Version 1
– Only Western cultures are amenable to
democracy. Non-western countries are not.
• Version 2
– Not all non-western cultures are amenable to
democracy. But there are certain cultures which
are resistant to democratic transition, such as
Islamic and Confucian culture.
Democracy as Western Culture
•
There is evidence to suggest that the first
argument is true.
1. Modern democracy originated in the West.
2. Since the early 19th century, most democratic
countries have been western countries.
3. Outside of the North Atlantic, democratic
transition has been most likely in;
•
•
•
Former British colonies.
Countries heavily influenced by the United States.
Former colonies of Spain and Portugal in Latin
America.
Democracy as Western Culture
4. In 1973, at the lowest point in the second
reverse wave, there were only 29
democracies. Among them:
•
•
•
20 were west European or European settler
countries or Latin American countries.
8 were former British colonies.
Japan.
5. Of the 30 third wave countries, 23 were
western countries, or countries where there
had been substantial western influence.
Electoral and Liberal Democracy
• There are two kinds of democracies (as
suggested by Larry Diamond).
– Electoral Democracies
hold free, fair and periodic elections but civil rights
are not well protected.
– Liberal Democracies
protect and promote a significant range of civil
liberties in addition to free and fair elections.
• In recent years, the number of electoral
democracies has increased, but the number
of liberal democracies has not.
Elections are Not Enough
•
•
Elections do not necessarily guarantee
democratic or liberal outcomes.
This can happen in the following ways:
1. Elections in non-Western societies can
lead to the victory of anti-democratic
groups.
2. Politicians can often win elections by
making appeals to voters based on
nationalism, ethnicity or religion.
Religion challenges to Secularism
• Also, religiously-oriented parties have
challenged Western secularism.
– E.g. Turkey, India, Israel, countries in the
former Yugoslavia, and Algeria.
• In Muslim countries, the choice is often
between anti-Western democracy and
non-democratic secularism.
Culture and Democracy
• It is sometimes argued that democracy
is not compatible with non-western
culture.
• However, almost every civilization
contains at least one liberal democracy.
• Therefore, liberal democracy is not
incompatible with major non-Western
cultures.
Culture and Democracy
• Yet, many non-western countries are still
electoral democracies, and are not obviously
heading towards liberal democracy.
• Examples of this trend can be found in:
–
–
–
–
10 Latin American countries;
8 African countries;
5 Orthodox Christian countries;
5 Muslim countries.
Culture and Democracy
• Some cultures have significant
similarities with Western culture, while
some cultures are very different.
Latin America
Africa
Islam
China
Similar to West
Different
Political Strategy and Democracy Promotion
•
There are two different strategies through
which to promote democracy.
1. Promote democracy in countries which are not
currently democratic.
2. Promote the consolidation of liberal democracy
in existing electoral democracies.
•
Although both strategies are desirable,
Huntington argues that the second option
provides a greater chance of success.
Political Strategy and Democracy Promotion
• Civilizations similar to the West have a
greater chance of democratic consolidation.
• Therefore, the first target should be Latin
America, followed by Orthodox Christian
countries.
• Also, the cooperative promotion of
democracy amongst existing democracies is
important.
The End of the ‘Transition’ Paradigm?
• Huntington is rather optimistic about the
future consolidation of democracy.
• On the contrary, Thomas Carothers is
much more pessimistic about the future
of democracy.
Thomas Carothers
Transition Paradigm No Longer
Appropriate
• In the last quarter of the twentieth
century, many countries moved away
from authoritarian regime towards more
liberal and democratic governance.
Outdated Paradigm
• Many scholars and policy-makers, especially
in the US, recognized the three waves of
democracy, and further argued that many
third wave democracies were in a process of
transition towards democracy. They regarded
this trend as universal.
• Carothers argues that this way of thinking is
no longer useful. In other words, even though
a country embraces some democratic
elements, this does not mean it will become a
consolidated democracy.
Assumptions of the ‘Transition Paradigm’
•
Carothers identifies 5 core assumptions in
this ‘Transition Paradigm’.
• Importantly, he thinks these 5 core
assumptions are mistaken.
1. Any country going away from democracy is
considered to be moving towards
democracy.
2. Democratization occurs in three processes.
–
–
–
Opening (crack in authoritarian regime)
Breakthrough (collapse of authoritarian regime)
Consolidation (becomes more stable and liberal)
Assumptions of the Transition Paradigm
3. In the transition to democracy,
elections will be not just a foundation
stone but a key generator over time of
further democratic reforms.
4. There are no-pre-conditions for
democracy. All that is needed is a
decision by political elites to move
towards democracy.
Assumptions of the Transition Paradigm
5. Third wave democratic transitions are
being built on functioning, coherent
states.
The end of the transition paradigm?
• Carothers argues that it is time to assess the
performance of the transition paradigm.
• Only 20 out of 100 countries identified as in transition
are on the path to functioning democracy.
• Some regressed to authoritarianism, and many are
neither dictatorial nor heading towards democracy.
Tier One
(Very
successful)
Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovenia,
Chile, Uruguay, Taiwan
Tier Two
(Successful)
Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Mexico, Brazil, Ghana
The Philippines, South Korea
The Grey Zone
• Carothers characterizes the transitional
countries as in a “Grey Zone”
• Countries in the grey zone have some
important elements of democracy, but
also suffer from serious democratic
deficits.
Qualified Democracy
• A number of ‘qualified democracy’ terms
(such as semi- and electoral) have been
coined to describe the countries in the grey
zone .
• The problem is that analysts are trying to
apply the transition paradigm by describing
grey zone countries as “~ democracy”, when
they might actually be heading towards
something other than democracy.
Types of regime in the Grey Zone
• Feckless Pluralism
– Frequent political alternation, causing political
instability and postponing serious problems.
– Most common in Latin America.
• Dominant Power Politics
– One group dominates politics and its replacement
is unlikely.
– Common in Sub-Saharan Africa, Former Soviet
Union countries, and Middle East.
• Both types of regime, feckless plural
and dominant power political, can move
to other categories, such as liberal
democratic and authoritarian.
Feckless Pluralism
Authoritarianism
Dominant Power
Politics
Grey Zone
Liberal
Democracy
Carothers’ Opinion
• Carothers is suggesting that the transition
paradigm does not apply to most developing
countries.
• “what is often thought of as an uneasy,
precarious middle ground between fullfledged democracy and outright dictatorship
is actually the most common political
condition today of countries in the developing
world and the post-communist world.”
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