Prospects of Democracy: A Study of 172 Countries

By Tatu Vanhanen | Go to book overview

9

Some observations on prospects of democracy in the contemporary world

Africa’s transition to a democratic governance system

John W. Forje

ANALYTICAL REFLECTION

The pioneering study of Tatu Vanhanen in the field of democratic prospects from a comparative political analysis perspective throws sufficient light on the merits and demerits of comparative governance especially between the established democracies and the transitional ones. The study builds on an expansion of scope along three distinctions, namely; first, the geographical scope which has shifted from an ethnocentric concentration on the established democracies of the western political systems to embracing the emerging non western style democracies of the so-called developing areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Second, the broader intellectual focus which has equally been quite impressive as the expansion of the geographical horizons. Within the synthesis of this intellectual expansion, we see the abandonment of the emphasis of comparative political study on formal governmental institutions, legal rules and procedures and formal political ideologies to the pivotal embracement of political parties, pressure groups, voting behaviour, political socialization as crucial input ingredients in comparative political analysis. The third stage results from a marriage, holy or unholy, between geographical ethnocentricity and intellectual expansion; which has given birth to a kind of ‘beyond frontier comparative’ paradigm shift, that is, political analyses are no longer content with single-country studies analysis. Apparently their focus could be envisaged as stretching beyond national frontiers to a global commons comparative analytical study of political and governance systems.

This new emphasis has equally been triggered by post Second World War political developments and especially following the emergence of newly independent states on the global political landscape; and where the new emphasis on comparison has had profound impact. We now find ourselves caught in the dichotomy of ‘developed and developing’ politics. However, the yardstick for cross-national comparative studies draws heavily from the generic nature of politics as practised in the western democracies. Unfortunately, certain facets of the fundamental attributes and indicators of the western comparative dichotomy have not been fully

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