The International Dimensions of Democratization: Europe and the Americas

In This Review

The International Dimensions of Democratization: Europe and the Americas

Edited by Laurence Whitehead
Oxford University Press, 1996
431 pp. $65.00
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The burgeoning literature on transitions to democracy has been largely written by students of comparative politics who are often specialists on one country or region, and hence tend to emphasize domestic factors in explaining why democratic transitions do or do not come about. This book explores systematically the international dimensions of democratization. As Whitehead points out, the simple geographical contiguity of democratic transitions occurring first in southern Europe, then in the Caribbean and Latin America, then in formerly communist countries, and the wave-like pattern in which democratizations happen suggests that international influences are at least as important as domestic ones. His introduction and the chapter by Philippe Schmitter suggest a taxonomy of mechanisms through which democratic influences are transmitted across borders, including contagion, control (where one or more countries explicitly promote democracy), consent, and conditionality (through the influence of international institutions like the International Monetary Fund or World Bank). Subsequent chapters explore concrete cases in Latin America, Europe, and Eastern Europe and provide useful assessments of the effectiveness of democracy -- and human rights -- promotion policies by the United States, Europe, and various NGOs.