ABSTRACT

The recent global trend towards democratic governance, labelled the ‘third wave’ of democratization by Samuel Huntington (1991), left the academic debate in many of the social sciences in considerable confusion. Emanating from Southern Europe in the 1970s and diffusing into Latin America during the 1980s, the wave finally reached Central and Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa at the end of the 1980s and the early 1990s. True, this wave of democracy (like its predecessors) left many countries virtually untouched, while others experienced an authoritarian backlash after initially implementing democratic reforms. In other states the outcome of liberalization and democratization is still uncertain. However, in a great number of the affected countries the democratizing impact of the wave has led to sustained domestic change and has substantially increased the total number of democratic regimes in the world.