- New Thinking in Political Economy series
Edited by José Casas Pardo and Pedro Schwartz
Chapter 1: Threats Democracy Faces: An Overview
José Casas Pardo 1 INTRODUCTION We have reached a point in history when serious threats hang over democracy, even in those countries in which it has been established for centuries, to say nothing of the developing and the underdeveloped countries. It is true that never before in history have so many countries in the world enjoyed a more or less democratic political system, something that has taken place mainly in the twentieth century. In 1900, out of the 49 existing independent countries, only six were democratic according to the standards of that time. By the end of the twentieth century, out of the 192 existing independent states, 86 could reasonably be called democratic, according to present-day requirements. Those 86 states represent approximately half of the world population, and in 22, among which are the richest countries in the world, democracy has had a continuity of at least 50 years. It would seem that after so many centuries of having organized undemocratic states, in the twentieth century the democratic ideas, beliefs and types of government conquered the globe. But it is also true that new and powerful developments are seriously threatening democracy all over the world. Terrorism, the immediate consequences of globalization, the ﬁnancial problems of the welfare state and the need to cut down its size, the very powerful pressure groups of all kinds, the large-scale migration and immigration movements (which are producing enormous immigration waves into the developed countries), multiculturalism and the problems it raises in the advanced countries,...
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