Is the “Third Wave” Over? Paul Bacon SILS, Waseda University
Is the Third Wave Over? • When Huntington wrote his book “The Third Wave” in 1990, the wave was still near its peak. • Today, we look at two articles written after the peak of the wave. • Samuel Huntington “After Twenty Years: The Future of the Third Wave” 1997. • Thomas Carothers “The End of the Transition Paradigm” 2002.
The Future of the Third Wave • Huntington considers two main questions. • Will democracy be consolidated in third wave countries? • Will more countries become democratic in the future? • To answer these questions, two key factors are important. • Economic development • Cultural receptivity
Economic Development and Democracy • Economic development has a strong positive effect on democratization. (Lipset) • “The future of democracy depends on the future of economic development.” (Huntington)
Why Econ. Development Helps Democracy • It leads to modernization. Greater literacy, education and urbanization expands the middle-class, which attempts to defend its interests. • Higher levels of distribution. In other words, the whole economic pie expands, which makes cooperation among people easier.
Why Econ. Development Helps Democracy 3. It produces a more complex society, making it more difficult for states to assert control. 4.The reduction of state control over the economy enhances the emergence of powerful economic actors which are independent of the state.
Why Econ. Development Helps Democracy 5. In the long term, economic development produces greater income equality. • As the economy of a country develops, internal pressure to democratize the political system emerges. • This period of pressure is called the “Transition Zone”
Cultural Receptivity to Democracy • Democracy is a Western idea. • To what extent can democracy, which is a Western product, take root in non-Western societies?
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: • Elections in non-Western societies can lead to the victory of anti-democratic groups. • 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. • Promote democracy in countries which are not currently democratic. • 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.
Transitions in Seven Regions • Southern Europe • The fall of right-wing authoritarian regimes in the mid-1970s. • Latin America • The replacement of military dictatorships with elected civilian governments in the 70s and 80s. • East and South Asia • The decline of authoritarian rule from the mid-1980s. • Eastern Europe • The collapse of Communism at the end of the 1980s.
Transitions in Seven Regions • The break-up of the Soviet Union • and the establishment of 15 post-Soviet republics in 1991. • Sub-Saharan Africa • The decline of one-party regimes in the first half of the 1990s. • Middle East • A weak but recognizable liberalizing trend in some countries in the 1990s.
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’. • Any country going away from democracy is considered to be moving towards democracy. • 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 • In the transition to democracy, elections will be not just a foundation stone but a key generator over time of further democratic reforms. • 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 • 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.
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 Liberal Democracy Authoritarianism Dominant Power Politics Grey Zone
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 full-fledged democracy and outright dictatorship is actually the most common political condition today of countries in the developing world and the post-communist world.”