Democracy in the Caribbean: Myths and Realities

Democracy in the Caribbean: Myths and Realities

Democracy in the Caribbean: Myths and Realities

Democracy in the Caribbean: Myths and Realities

Synopsis

This edited collection examines the diverse political experiences represented in the Caribbean. It presents a comparative explanation of attempts at democratization and assesses their successes and failures.

Excerpt

Among developing nations, the Caribbean has the largest number of liberal democracies. The Commonwealth Caribbean states (hereafter Englishspeaking Caribbean), with a few exceptions, have maintained competitive parliamentary democracies for over three decades and have largely escaped the kinds of social and political upheaval apparent in many parts of the Third World. Over the past decade, there has been renewed interest in democracy in developing nations, dispelling the pessimistic view of the previous decades that democracy could not be achieved in the socioeconomic environment that prevailed in those states. Despite the longevity of democratic institutions there, Caribbean states have not been frequently analyzed as have other regional clusters. The recent comprehensive series Democracy in Developing Nations, edited byLarry Diamond,Seymour Lipset, andJuan Linz, did not include the Caribbean, with the exception of the Dominican Republic.

The Caribbean encompasses virtually every type of democratic experience in developing nations. Since independence, some nations have had relatively stable democracies (Jamaica, Barbados, Belize); some have persisted in the face of crises and lapses (Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Antigua); some have cycles of democratic attempts and military interventions (Haiti, Suriname); and there is one case of a failed democracy that consolidated into authoritarian rule, with the potential of democratic rebirth (Guyana). A volume such as this one is a contribution to knowledge of a diverse Caribbean that is not well understood, and one that could serve as a foundation for a comparative theory of democracy in developing nations.

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