In This Review

The Politics of Democratic Consolidation: Southern Europe in Comparative Perspective
The Politics of Democratic Consolidation: Southern Europe in Comparative Perspective
Edited by Richard Gunther et al.
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995, 493 pp

First in a series that will examine democratic transitions and consolidation in Spain, Greece, Italy, and Portugal. It is an important book not only because of its authors (in addition to editors Gunther, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, and Hans-JŸrgen Puhle are such names as Juan Linz, Alfred Stepan, Philippe Schmitter, Sidney Tarrow, and Gianfranco Pasquino), not only because of the scope of their investigations (they look at the role of parties, interest groups, the military, the institutional setup, and the international context) but also because of their careful attitude toward generalizations, the bane of much theory-driven political science. They insist on the diversity of paths to democratic consolidation, the dependence of these paths on the nature of the previous regime, and the factors that still threaten further consolidation. They also attempt to distinguish the so far relatively successful countries of southern Europe from the shakier transitions in Eastern Europe and Latin America. More stable countries, they note, carried out political reform before economic reform. There is a wealth of information here, but the outstanding merit of this volume lies in its illuminating comparative analysis.