Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation by Larry Diamond

Tuesday, May 11, 1999
STANFORD

In the past 25 years, democracy has spread around the world to an unprecedented degree. As a result of this "third wave" of global democratization, 117 countries - more than 60 percent of all the world's states - are at least "electoral democracies" today. Hoover Institution Senior Research fellow Larry Diamond explores the staying power of those democracies and questions whether there will be a new wave of global democratization in Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation, now available from The Johns Hopkins University Press ($17.95, paperback).

The "third wave" is not simply a story of democratic progress. Diamond uses annual freedom ratings, human rights reports, public opinion survey data, and case studies to demonstrate a growing gap between the electoral form of democracy and the deeper conditions of "liberal democracy." The latter include an active and pluralistic civil society, as well as a rule of law, protection for civil liberties, constraint of state power, and civilian control of the military.

Because of the low quality of democracy in many developing countries and post-communist states, many publics are disenchanted with the way democracy is working. This leaves democracy vulnerable to some form of breakdown, as with the executive coup by President Fujimori in Peru or the succession of military and executive coups in Africa.

Based on two decades of research and writing on emerging democracies, Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation builds on Samuel Huntington's The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, which introduced the concept of waves of democratic expansion.

If the new democracies of the third wave are to become stable and enduring, Diamond argues, they must be consolidated. He defines democratic consolidation as the embrace of democratic norms, principles, and practices by all the major elites and organizations of a country, as well as the mass public. He adds that recently established democracies that do not "generate more active, positive and deeply felt commitments of support" are likely to lose ground or revert to their former authoritarian systems. Many of the post-Soviet states, including Russia and Ukraine, appear in particular danger in this regard.

If the emerging democracies are to become stable and secure, Diamond explains, they must become more deeply democratic-more liberal, accountable, and responsive to their citizens. This requires building stronger more effective political institutions (especially political parties, judicial systems, and legislatures), decentralizing power to the regional and local level, controlling corruption, and strengthening civil society. Independent think tanks, mass media, trade unions, business chambers, professional associations, student organizations, and women's groups must engage and check the state if democracy is to thrive, Diamond argues.

The last chapter of the book suggests that the prospects for a "fourth wave" of democratic growth are promising, particularly if authoritarian countries in Asia-and most of all China-continue to experience rapid economic growth, and integration into world markets and networks of information and ideas. Even countries that seem far from establishing any democratic principles may experience a pivotal event that brings change. "If a broad domestic crisis grips the economy or society, and if international support or tolerance erodes, (repressive regimes) are vulnerable to collapse," Diamond states. One example is the financial turmoil last year that ended three decades of autocratic rule in Indonesia. That country will attempt to hold its first democratic election in June.

A noted political sociologist, Larry Diamond is a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. He is coeditor of the Journal of Democracy and of several volumes of essays including The Self-Restraining State: Power and Accountability in New Democracies (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1999), Consolidating the Third Wave Democracies (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997) and Civil-Military Relations and Democracy 2d edition (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996).

Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation is available from The Johns Hopkins University Press at 1-800-537-5487, or www.press.jhu.edu

Visit Larry Diamond's homepage or the Hoover Institution Web Site at www-hoover.stanford.edu.

 


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