In This Review

Democracy From Above: Regional Organizations and Democratization
Democracy From Above: Regional Organizations and Democratization
By Jon C. Pevehouse
Cambridge University Press, 2005, 262 pp

Given that U.S. presidents from Woodrow Wilson to George W. Bush have made the promotion of democracy a central tenet of foreign policy, the lack of systematic knowledge about international influences on democratization is surprising. In this useful study, a political scientist explores the role of regional organizations in transitions to and the consolidation of democracy. Regional organizations, he shows, can pressure post-authoritarian governments to implement democratic reforms by providing reassurances to elites that property rights and commitments to free trade will be honored, socializing the military not to intervene in democratic processes, and providing international legitimacy for reformers. In fact, Pevehouse's statistical tests establish connections between membership in a highly democratic regional organization and the probability of a democratic transition -- a conclusion confirmed by his case studies. Hungary's experience shows how NATO and the Council of Europe helped reassure and circumscribe military elites and facilitate economic assistance, and Turkey's turn toward liberalization after the 1980 military coup was encouraged by the European Community. Pevehouse thus lends support to the view that active and enlightened regional organizations are critical partners in democracy promotion.