Courtesy Reuters

In late April 1974, a group of young military officers in Portugal launched a coup against Marcello Caetano, their country’s aging dictator. Within days, the old regime was gone, and after eighteen months of political turmoil, Portugal was on its way to freedom. Thus began what scholars came to call “the third wave” of global democratization—an extraordinary movement that galvanized the political development of region after region. In the decades that followed, dozens of countries with all kinds of authoritarian political systems—monarchies, oligarchies, military dictatorships, one-party regimes—shifted into the democratic camp. As most of the world was

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