Regimes of the countries were changed from authoritarian to democracy with several reasons. With the late 1970’s, lots of Latin American countries collapsed authoritarian regimes and passed democratic regimes. Asian countries, South Korea, Phillippines, Pakistan, Thailand, India and so on. They all undertaken transitions to democracy. When we search the literature, we can see many similarities, differences of countries which passed democratic regimes. When we asked how democratization begin, and why countries democratize; we investigates the literature especially on democratization, sources of democracy etc. Huntington, in his work, “How Countries Democratize?” explain the main factors of the democratization process of countries. In his monument, he explain these process with the progression an reggression of the level of democracy. Besides, Huntington analyze the relation between democracy and cultural values. He believe that culture, religion, values on spectecular civilizations have effects for apropriateness of democracy.

There are three waves for democratization in the world. In other respects, these have reverse waves.

The first wave began in 1820’s. In United States, wide men population had a right to vote. This progress leads to many democratic development in its time. With the first wave od democracy, there were 29 democracies in the world. But this wave followed by the first reverse wave. In 1922, Mussolini came to the power in Italy. This power movement, spreaded to other Euroean countries such as Fascism in Germany with SS Leader Adolf Hitler, Yugoslavia with General Tito etc. Fascist political movements were spreaded an number of democratic countries decreased to 12.

The second wave started after 2nd World War. This wave triggered democratic transitions. In 1962, number of democratic countries reached its zenith with 36 democracies. Then, with the second reverse wave, 30 democracies remained in between 1960-1975.

The third wave occured between 1974-1990. In this period, Portugal, Spain, Greece passed democracy. Military governments lost their legitimacy and popularity. Economic downturn happened in 1970’s with the enormous influence of the Oil Crisis. Economic hardship created opposition to authoritarian leaders. We can see determinative social changes in the same transitional period. Industrialization, education, well-educated population, existence of new larger entrepreneur middle class, revival of civil society and so on.

International factors

European Union institutions, international organizations are the international factors of democratization process. The examples of transition to democracy, Portugal, Spain, Greece affected from European Union and its countries. At the towards to end of the Soviet Union, several countries passed democracy from the socialist regimes. Collapse of the Soviet Russia, abolished the spreaded Soviet socialist culture and countries choosed the way of democratic alternatives. Regions turned to the liberal approach with the Perestroika and liked movements.

According to Huntington, United States President Carter’s policy had a supportive effect to democratization. As an one another factor is Catholic religious culture. According to him, when we look into the countries which are democratized, generally these have Catholic religious culture. Huntington generalized this situation as democracy appropriate to the Catholic countries and the others not compatible to democracy. Latin America, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Poland are the some of the Catholic countries. All had turns democracy. Before, Vatican participated to authoritarian regimes. But after second Vatican Council, they supported to democracy. According tho Huntington’s thesis, two-thirds of the democratized countries have Catholic identity.[1]

The other factors for transition to democratic order or vice versa, “Snowballing effect”. One movement in defined country, can spread the other countries. This interaction get bigger as like snowball and affect the other countries. This event realize both democratic transition, non democratic transition.

These factors can create reverse wave:

Weakness of democratic values, losing the belief to democracy, breakdown of law and order, intervention by non-democratic foreign power such as Russia and China, collapse of democratic systems in other countries (snowballing effect), severe economic drawbacks, social/political polarization.

Preconditions that favor development of democracy:

Preconditions for creating of democratic regimes can be grouped into four categories[2]:

Economic wealth, social structure, external environment, cultural context.

Zone of transition. Wealth is important, but after, for filling the gap, as indicating instruments political elites, situations of actors have determinative role for democratization.

Relatively autonomous groups, institutions which are independent from the state, business groups, NGOs etc. They all check the state power and help fort he creating democratic order. With this situation, market-oriented economy is adopted.

International factors have determining factor on democratization. Democratic countries and their relations, organizations after the collapse of the Soviet Union, effects of United States with its democratic tenets are can given as an example to the international factors for democratization.

Huntington thoughts about cultural context, Confucianism, Islam are not compatible with democracy. According to him, when we investigate the countries and their religions and cultures, Islamic countries and structure of Eastern societies sort ill with democracy. Huntington, in his work, afeected from the ideas of Sidney Verba. According to Verba, political culture is sourced from the culture of a society with its values, beliefs and symbols. These all have functions on leading of the government affairs.[3]

Political Processes of Democratization

There are three model for the explanation of the transition to democracy. These are lineer, cyclical and dialectical model.

According to Huntington’s declaration, lineer model which is belonged to Dankwart A. Rustow, foresee the development of the democratic level within a linear progression. This linear model is seen in the European countries in first wave of democratization. And some Latin American countries passed democracy with the light of the linear model. As stated in the article, Argentina in 1930 and Chile in 1973 given as an example for transition to democracy in Latin America. In cyclical model, normally, elites accept the legitimacy of the democratic regime. Elections are held regularly. But in some elections, parties which supperted with military junta, other repressive group can be selected. And also military coups can be occured from these groups. In that periods, democratic level decreased. Countries that have more stable authoritarian regime pass into democracy rather than oscillated between despotism and democracy. In dialectical model, as different from the other two models, middle class raised their contestation before the authoritarian regimes. With this way, according to this model, authoritarian regimes collapse and transition to democracy goes on. Greece, Spain, Italy, Germany can be given as an example to this model. [4]

If process continue with below, democratization is provided:

  • * Define national identity
    * Develop political institution effectively
    * Expand political participation carefully
    * Agreement, consensus, compromise, negotiation with other political actors (even though sometimes it’s for interest of actors)

Transition Processes

Reforma – Transformation
Ruptura – Replacement
Ruptforma – Transplacement

Government Actors:

*Hardliners \ standpatters   *Moderate

Opposition Actors:

*Reformers  *Extremists \ Radicals

Huntington wrote the introduction of the relevant topic as: “The third wave transitions were complex political processes involving a variety of groups struggling for power and for and against democracy and other goals.”[5]

In these processes, moderate group has liberal identity, and extremist groups are more revolutionist.

For transition to democracy, according to explanation of reforma or transformantion; among government actors, reformers must be stronger than hardliners. In opposition actors, moderates must more stronger than the radicals. Besides, for make an agreement, government actors must be stronger than opposition actors. Democratization in Spain and Brazil can be given as an example for this type of democratization process.

Explanation of ruptura or replacement; among government actors, reformers must be strongers than hardliners. Also in opposition actors, again moderates must be repressive than the extremists. But, as different from the reforma, for compromise, oppositions must be stronger than the government. Phillippines and Romania were the good example for this explanation.

According to last explanation, ruptforma or transplacement, sides both government and opposition, accept that no sides superior to each other, and there are equal position between them. After that they aware that the balance of power. Poland, Uruguay, Czech Republic are shown as a good example for the situation of consensus.

As we saw that these three different type of processes, Huntington advocates the consensus way on transition to democracy rather than conflictual way. In third wave, all democratized countries applied agreement within itself and other countries.



[1] Pamela Beth Radcliff, “Making Democratic Citizens in Spain Civil Society and the Popular Origins of the Transition, 1960–78”, Palgrave, 2011, p.45.

[2] Samuel P. Huntington, “Will More Countries Become Democratic?”, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 99, No. 2. (Summer, 1984), p.198.

[3] Samuel P. Huntington, “Will More Countries Become Democratic?”, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 99, No. 2. (Summer, 1984), p.207.

[4] Samuel P. Huntington, “Will More Countries Become Democratic?”, Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 99, No. 2. (Summer, 1984), p.210.

[5] Samuel P. Huntington, “How Countries Democratize”, Political Science Quarterly, Vol.106, No. 4., 1991-92

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Istanbul Medeniyet Univ. Political Sciences

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