10/16/2012 11:13:00 AM
Pol201 Week 15 (Winter)
The Third Wave- Samuel Huntington
Wave: a group of transitions from non-democratic to democratic regimes
that occur within a specific period of time
According to Huntington, there have been three waves. The first wave was a
long wave, lasting from 17 thto 19thcentury. Long social and economic
processes that often culminated in revolution (Britain, France).
In the first wave, the cause of democracy was simply modernization. The
wave ends as countries regressed; as some countries move back from
democracy to non-democracy.
The second wave was after WWII. Countries became democratic in two
ImpositionGermany, Italy, Japan. Democracy was imposed on them.
Decolonizationmany countries that gained independent after WWII became
The third wave began in April 1974, when the Portuguese dictatorship was
overthrown by a coup. Portugal had never been a democracy before, it was
always associated with fascism and Franco’s Spain. The Portuguese armed
forces movement was split amongst conservatives, and moderates. The
triumph of democracy in Portugal was a surprise and it was the beginning of
a long wave of democratization that lasts to this day.
When the third wave began in 1974, there were only about 40 democracies
in the world, and these were mainly in the advanced industrial countries
(Canada, New Zealand, US, Japan, etc.) Military and one-party dictatorships
were the norm in the Caribbean, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East.
The number and percentage of democracies in the world expanded greatly
during the third wave.
Collapse of communism in Greece, Franco’s death in Spain 1975
Military rule also began to unravel in Latin America, Ecuador, Bolivia,
Argentina, Brazil. Also in 1989, by the third wave had travelled to Asia, Philippines, South
By 1991, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Taiwan
By 1987, the third wave had spread to the point where 2 out of 5 countries
in the world were democracies, but that obviously still left gaping holes
around the world. Democracy looks like a regional problem, not a global
The end of the Cold War brought profound changes to Africa as well.
The two superpowers, the US and the Soviet Union—mutually assured
destruction, nuclear war. However the Cold War was still fought all over the
world for 40 years, mostly in developing countries in what was understood
as proxy wars (ex. Vietnam, Korea)
The whole world was divided as wars were fought in places that were either
strategically important or seemingly up for grabs.
The war in Angola started basically when the country gained independence
in 1974. Angola was a colony of Portugal and after Portugal became
democratic they disbanded their colonial affiliations.
Opposition began to fight the local Angolan government following
independence. The government identified itself as socialist (African
Socialism) looking to get help from China, USSR, Cuba, Angola is right on
the South African border (bordering Namibia, Mozambique) South Africa is
under apartheid at this point in time, and fears that the internal conflict in
Angola will lead to it becoming a Soviet sphere of influence. The South
African military becomes involved in this war as they see it as a security
threat. The United States joins South Africa and the supporting rebels
Soviet Union collapses in 1991 and the Cold War is essentially over. USSR
and Cuba both withdraws from Angola, as they are no longer interested in
sustaining the proxy war. Later on, South Africa and the United States both
withdraw as the threat is no longer present.
Angola is an example of a country that was completely destroyed by the
Cold War. Starting in the early 1990s, much of Africa as well as many countries in Asia
and Latin America, become free from the prison of war conflict.
In Benin, a coalition of forces and civil society organized a national
conference that declared themselves sovereign, launching a democratic
Nelson Mandela released from prison in February 1990, after almost three
decades of imprisonment. This started a process of dialogue that led to
universal suffrage in South Africa in 1994.
At the time of these two seminal events in Africa in 1990, there were only 3
democracies in Africa. Earlier in the third wave, democracy had been
attempted in Ghana, Nigeria, and Sudan, but in each case it was shut down.
After 1990, there was a rolling tide in African democracy—most African
states felt pressure to at least liberalize, and at least tolerate opposition.
Huntington notes that in 1974, there were 41 democracies out of the 150
states in the world. Of those remaining 109 states, 56 subsequently make a
transition to democracy. And of those 56, fewer than 10 are not democracies
In post-colonial states (European), 15 states make the transition and 6 join
Today, over 3/5ths of the world are democracies.
In the Third wave, democracy came about not because of long, deep-rooted
social and economic factors, but instead through negotiations. These
democracies came about because political elites engineered