A statement often repeated nowadays, both in scholarly circles and in the mass media, is that democracy has made great progress in the world in recent years. The reasons for the statement are simple: In a brief period of time, a large number of countries have commenced a process of democratization. In Eastern Europe, the totalitarian systems are being replaced by democracies; in Africa, the one-party systems headed by strongmen, personally in charge of the state, are challenged by opposition forces exploiting newly gained political liberties; in Latin America, the military dictatorships began crumbling several years ago; in many Asian countries, authoritarian systems are moving--or being forced to move--in a democratic direction.
The swift progress of democracy in many countries has raised hopes for a better world; the expectations are that democracy will not only promote political liberties and other human rights but will also lead to rapid economic development and increased welfare as well as to international relations characterized by peaceful cooperation and mutual understanding. In this book, we will examine the prospects for these great expectations. A necessary first step is to clarify the concept of democracy. This is done in Chapter 1, which introduces different views of democracy, discusses ways of measuring democracy, and identifies the countries that presently qualify as democratic. Next, we need to know whether democracy is advancing in a sustainable fashion. This issue is the theme of Chapter 2. A model is introduced that demonstrates that the process of democratization--that is, the movement from authoritarian to democratic forms of rule--is a lengthy one involving different phases. The major part of the chapter is devoted to the formulation of four propositions, each of which spells out an important characteristic of democracy's degree of progress and sustainability. Following this groundwork, we are ready to ask about the domestic and international consequences of democracy. Chapter 3 concentrates on possible domestic consequences for economic development, welfare, and human rights. Chapter 4 turns to the international consequences of democracy: Will it pave the way for a