Comparative Politics

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Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics


"Democracy is the worst form of government, except all others that have been tried." Was said by Former English Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Contempt the fact that government by the common person has hit many pitfalls throughout history, compared to the authoritative nature mankind's governmental history and in some present-day cases, the will of the people has always and will always be the most beneficial political system no matter the country's size or ethnic makeup (Shepard, 2007, pp. 22).

Authoritarianism is a principle of blind compliance to authority, as opposed to individual human right and action. In government, authoritarianism refers any form of government that concentrates authority in the hands of a leader or small elite that is not constitutionally responsible to the body of the people.


Comparative politics is the process through which a political regime becomes democratic. The explosive spread of democracy around the world over the last 35 years radically transformed the international political landscape from one in which democracies were the exception to one in which they are the rule. Interest in democratization is high among academics, policy makers, and activists alike, in large part due to the strengthening of international norms that associate democracy with many positive attributes, from human rights to economic prosperity to security (Duckitt 2009, 63).

Waves of Democratization

Transitions to and from democracy tend to occur globally in waves, meaning they are clustered in both space and time rather than distributed randomly. Samuel Huntington identified three main waves of democratization. The first wave (1826-1926) accompanied the expansion of suffrage, principally in Europe and the United States. The collapse of many European democracies after World War I marked the first reverse wave (1922-1942).

The second wave (1943-1962) occurred through the postwar occupation of Axis powers, attempts at democratization in former British colonies, and the spread of democracy in Latin America. The second reverse wave (1958-1975) came with the reversion to military rule in much of Latin America and the collapse of young democracies in Asia and Africa.

The third wave began with the overthrow of the military regime in Portugal in 1974. Over the following 25 years, there was a dramatic expansion of democracy worldwide. Democracy first spread through Southern Europe and Latin America, then to Eastern Europe and Asia, and finally spread to Africa. During this period the number of electoral democracies grew from roughly one quarter to nearly two-thirds of all countries. Most analysts agree that the third wave has crested if not reversed. Rather than reverting to authoritarianism, however, many third wave democracies have become mired in hybrid or mixed regimes that combine elements of both democracy and authoritarianism. (Adorno 2008, p. 228)

Democracy vs. Authoritarianism

Democratization is difficult to define in practice, in large part due to disagreements over how to define democracy. For example, there is no consensus on where to mark the beginning and end points of the democratization process. One approach defines democratization as the period between the breakdown of an authoritarian regime and the conclusion of the first ...
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