Democracy in Developing
Countries: Its Correlates
[The citizens of the United States] will avoid the necessity of those overgrown
military establishments which, under any form of government,
are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly
hostile to republican liberty.— George Washington
Both the class analysis of democracy and the empirical tests of modernization theory defined the prevailing conditions as unsuitable for the advancement of democracy in developing countries and predicted an unpromising future. Nevertheless, some developing countries have established democratic political institutions, and a few of them have managed to maintain fairly stable democracies.
Among 128 developing countries 1 for which we have data, at least 51 made serious attempts to establish democratic systems. But less than half of these maintained stable democracies; others experienced vacillations between highly democratic and authoritarian systems. Including some relatively young states whose political capabilities have not been fully tested, we can identify 20 developing countries as stable democracies. Although their annual scores of democracy vary—some score over 100, some in the high 80s or 90s, and some fluctuate between these levels—once they obtained an annual democracy score higher than 82, their scores remained above that level for subsequent years. The Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Gambia, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Malta, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Venezuela, and Western Samoa have maintained highly democratic systems. The same appears true of Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and of Zimbabwe, but the political turmoil observed in the first two during the late 1980s and in 1990 and the move toward a one-party system initiated in the latter in 1987 may qualify them for a category other than that of "stable democracies." Brazil, Burma, Chile, El Salvador, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malaysia, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Somalia, Suriname, Turkey, and Uruguay, established highly