Democracy, in a mainstream understanding, involves the recruitment of state position holders and the making of public policies in ways that allow participation by, and promote accountability to, ordinary citizens. During the European Enlightenment, democracy’s procedures began to cohere in their modern representative and majoritarian form, made manifest in parliaments and regular elections. But greater than two centuries more were needed for democracy to spread globally, involving a series of what Samuel Huntington (1991) identified as ‘waves’. A ‘long’ first wave, beginning during the nineteenth century and extending into the early twentieth, introduced elected parliaments across Europe and, at least nominally, in Latin America and Japan. But during the 1920s–1930s, a ‘reverse wave’ set in, with democracy losing ground in all these places amid the rise of totalitarian ideologies. After victory by the Allied powers in World War II, followed by the break-up of empires, a second wave took shape, renewing democracy in Europe and Japan, while conveying it also to parts of Africa and East and Southeast Asia. However, during the 1950s–1960s, momentum was again reversed, with democracy retreating before military coups and modernizing bureaucracies.
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- Democracy’s Meaning, Progress and Recession
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