Since their transitions, the democracies of the “third wave” have followed a range of trajectories beyond simple survival or breakdown. Many have stagnated at low levels of democracy and some have suffered democratic erosion, but there also have been cases of democratic deepening against the odds.
A survey of the region yields a patchwork result, with democratic governance faring well in some countries, at a standstill in others, and in the most worrisome cases actively eroding.
Why do democracies survive or fail? An empirical study of Latin America finds that the fate of democracies depends largely on the regional political context, as well as the level of actors’ commitment to democracy and policy moderation.
Latin America’s recent experience shows that effective democratic governance is difficult to achieve and depends on many factors, some of them context-specific. Nonetheless, it is possible to draw some general lessons.
Despite a significant expansion of citizenship over the last few decades, the Andean nations face a severe crisis of democratic representation. The root of the problem lies not in the mechanisms of representation but in poor state performance.
A review of "Patterns of Democracy: Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries, " by Arend Lijphart; and "Elections as Instruments of Democracy: Majoritarian and Proportional Views," by G. Bingham Powell, Jr.