Dahl on Democracy

Topics: Democracy, Oligarchy, Direct democracy Pages: 4 (1162 words) Published: May 22, 2013
Chapter 12: What Underlying Conditions Favour Democracy?
Page 145-165
We face two questions: How can we account for the establishment of democratic institutions in so many countries in so many parts of the world, and how can we explain its failure? A full answer is impossible; two interrelated sets of factors are undoubtedly of crucial importance.

During the 20th century, the main alternatives lost out in competition with democracy. The monarchy, open oligarchy, hereditary aristocracy fatally declined in legitimacy and ideological strength. Though replaced by nondemocratic alternatives (fascism, nazism) they flourished briefly due to their defeat in WW2. Military dictatorships, mainly in latin America, fell due to economic, diplomatic and military (Argentina) failures. The main democratic antagonist (USSR) collapsed due to internal decay and external pressures. A final victory for democracy has not been achieved, nor was it close, see China. Middle eastern countries are still not democratic as well as some countries that reverted back to nondemocratic regimes as conditions were not favourable.

Favourable conditions:
Essential conditions for democracy
1. Control of military and police by elected officials.
2. Democratic beliefs and political culture.
3. No strong foreign control hostile to democracy
Favourable conditions for democracy:
4. A modern market economy and society
5. Weak subcultural pluralism

democratic institutions are less likely to develop in a country subject to intervention by another country hostile to democratic government in that country. E.g. Soviet intervention prevented Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary from democratizing despite favourable conditions. The US: history of intervening in Latin America, overthrowing democratically elected governments to protect their economic interests in the region, for instance in Guatamala in 1954. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the...
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