Democracies and Democratisation

Democracies have been the dominant form of rule in many countries, this was not the case until the 20th century. Comparative politics has quite long focussed on democracies and democratic transition.

Democratisation studies have become an important subdiscipline in
the field of comparative politics. It has become a popular field of inquiry after the end of dictatorship in Portugal in 1974. In order to analyse the democratic transition, one must find some empirical working definition of What is a democracy?
Anibal Perez Linan in the article Democracies in book Comparative politics of Daniel Caramani tries to explain Meaning of Democracy, Types and Factors of Democratic Transition and the future of Democracy.
• Democracy as a term has been used flexibly to refer to the movement for rights,freedom.
• Historically Democracy as a term came into prominence with the rise of Athenian democracy and democracy as Greek word refer to rule by the people. In recent decades democracy has been used to refer to LIBERAL DEMOCRACIES.

Photo by Matteo Paganelli on Unsplash

Democracy has been defined by various scholars, However, economist Schumpeter and

Roald Dahl have been credited for defining procedural and substantive aspects of democracy.
Procedural Democracy as defined by Schumpeter
Schumpeter defines the classical doctrine of democracy as follows: “the democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions which realizes the common good by making the people itself decide issues through the election of individuals who are to assemble in order to carry out its will.”
Substantive aspect of democracy
It has been highlighted by Robert Dahl as a combination of an open contest of Power and
Inclusive Political Participation. Dahl called this polyarchy differentiating it from ideal
Dahl outlined minimum set of procedures and guarantees to democracy namely
• Freedom of organisation and expression
• Right to vote
• Eligibility of public office
• Free and fair elections
• Alternative sources of information and Competition.
• Vote choice in policy making
Four Principles had been outlined in comparative political analysis of Democracy
1. A free and fair election 2. Universal participation
3. Civil liberties
4. responsible government

Classification of countries into democratic and non-democratic regimes has two approaches-
1.Dichotomous approach 2.Continuous Variable approach
Polity project by Rober gurr classified countries on +10–10 scale-Democracy to Autocracy.
Democracy index by freedom house classifies countries based on civil liberties and political
rights on the 1–7 scale.
Certain countries maybe neither democratic nor authoritarian, they may be called as hybrid regimes
Davis coller and Steven levitsky has coined oligarchical democracies, restrictive democracy and tutelary democracies,
O donnell had coined delegative democracies referring to the strong presidential systems and Fareed Zakaria has coined the term illiberal democracy
Democracies themselves can be classified into broad categories
1. parliamentary democracy and presidential,
2. majoritarian and consensus making democracies.
In general, theories seek into explaining the causes of democratic transition and breakdown of democracy focused on four factors
1. Structural (Social and Economic) -Economic development is proportional to the sustenance of democracy and
Social Inequality is one of the causes for prevention of democratic transition as wealthy elites do not benefit from the transition
However, Huntington cited Institutions as the main stabiliser in Politically volatiles transitions.
2.Institutional Conditions
3. Role of political actors (Leaders and organisations),
4.Internal factors are four causes of proposed by scholars of Democratization studies.
Democratization is ‘the transition to a more democratic system of government.’ Historically, democratization has been kicked off by several factors. Higher wealth throughout the population gives more people economic equality, which often turns to a desire for political equality. Greater education, especially literate populations, are more likely to think, read, and
write about their rights, and are more likely to encourage democratization. Healthy economies, lengthy periods of peace, good international relations, industrial technology, cultural values, and even the growth of a middle class have all been proposed to influence the
move towards democratization.

Democratisation studies have been mainly dominated by following scholars
• Samuel Huntington-Qualitative Global comparison of democratisation.
• Jagger’s and Gurr-Classification of regime during the third wave1995
• Vanhanen Global comparison of democracy since 1850
Samuel Huntington
Huntington defines a wave of the democratic transition as the transition of a large number of
non-democratic regimes into democracies over a certain period of time outnumbering
transition in the opposite direction
Modern research on democratization was pushed heavily during the course of the “third wave” of democratization. The term “wave of democratization” was coined by Samuel P. Huntington and depicts a number of transitions “from nondemocratic to democratic regimes that occur within a specified period of time and that significantly outnumber transitions in the opposite direction during that period” .The “third wave” started in the 1970s in Southern
Europe, spilled over to South America, some Asian and African countries, and culminated in the democratization of the former communist countries in Eastern Europe According to Huntington, the first wave, initiated by the Independence of the USA and the French Revolution, two incidents which brought democracy to the stage of history, was long and slow, starting in 1828 and lasting until 1926(1828–1926), Second Wave (1943–1962).
Third Wave (1974–1982).
In the course of this wave, the USA and Canada democratized. Huntington mentions male suffrage as a central criterion for democratization. With the elections of 1828, the era of Jacksonian democracy began, expanding real suffrage to all white males without any limitations. By 1850, all state restrictions had been abolished. Suffrage was finally expanded
to all females, too, by the nineteenth amendment in 1920. However, real universal suffrage was not achieved until the Voting Rights Act of 1965, enabling poor whites and especially Afro-Americans, who had previously been disfranchised by states restrictions, to vote.
His qualitative comparison seeks to explain why and how countries became democratic
during this period, by four explanatory factors which are interdependent
1.A developing crisis legitimising in authoritarian regimes
2.High level of economic growth in 1960
3.Changes in policies of important external actors
4.A general, demonstration or snowballing effect across the globe.
Between 1974 and 1990 more than thirty countries in southern Europe, Latin America, East Asia, and Eastern Europe shifted from authoritarian to democratic systems of government.
This global democratic revolution is probably the most important political trend in the late twentieth century. In the Third Wave, Samuel P. Huntington analyses the causes and nature of these democratic transitions, evaluates the prospects for stability of the new democracies, and explores the possibility of more countries becoming democratic. At this volatile time in history, Huntington’s assessment of the processes of democratization is indispensable to understanding the future of democracy in the world



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