The International Dimensions of Democratization: Europe and the Americas

By Laurence Whitehead | Go to book overview
and internationalization, perhaps with a side reference to the growing regionalization of IGOs and NGOs. Moreover, in certain of these regions, democracy at the national level has become the norm not the exception.While these broad parametric trends and waves no doubt contribute something to the desire to impose conditionality, its feasibility would seem to hinge on major changes in the system of global security. The end of the Cold War and, with it, the loss of external support for anti-capitalist and autocratic experiments in development has meant that regime changes no longer threaten the global balance of power. Democratic superpowers, such as the United States or Europe collectively, no longer need fear that the uncertainty of transition will be exploited by the sinister external forces of world Communism, aimed at undermining their security. On the one hand, this seems to leave insiders freer than before to choose their own institutions and follow their own policies—but only within the narrower constraints imposed by economic interdependence and international norms—on the other, it leaves outsiders freer to intervene when those norms are transgressed or when the interests of interdependence are violated, especially in those régimes d'exception where the effort can be orchestrated multilaterally.
Appendix: Propositions and Hypotheses
To facilitate further discussion and research on the impact of the international context upon contemporary democratization, I conclude with an inventory of propositions-cum-hypotheses that are implied by the above analysis. They are neither exhaustive nor inclusive. One could certainly add to them and systematize them further. They are offered as inductive generalizations based on a restricted set of cases and a restricted period of time, not as confirmed empirical findings or invariant deductive conclusions. For, if there is one overarching lesson to be gleaned from the contemporary international context for democratization, it is that this context is subject to rapid change in both the magnitude and direction of its impact!I. All contemporary regime changes are affected to a significant degree by the international political context in which they occur, even if:
A This context does not dictate or determine the timing, type or outcome of the transition process.
B The impact of the international context is normally mediated through national or sub-national actors and processes.

II. Transitions to democracy are more affected by this context since they involve a greater number and variety of actors with a wider range

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