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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchA Lost Decade for Third-Wave Democracies?

A Lost Decade for Third-Wave Democracies?

Authors: Yun-han Chu, Kai-Ping Huang, Marta Lagos and Robert Mattes

Affiliation:National Taiwan University, Baker Institute for Public Policy Rice University,

University of Strathclyde

Organization/Publisher: Journal of Democracy

Date/Place: April 2020/ USA

Type of Literature: Article 

Number of Pages:18


Keywords: Global Barometer Surveys, support for democracy, satisfaction with democracy, Latin America, North Africa


The article focuses on the democratic recession in three regions (East Asia, North Africa and Latin America) over the last decade. The authors utilize a citizen-based approach by using Global Barometer Surveys and analyzing the binary of citizens’ support and satisfaction which come through political goods, economic success, protection of human safety, and improvements in governance. The main argument is that the people’s support for democracy is highly inclined toward the level of satisfaction from the regime. Thus, the trust deficit of the citizens in government is the driver behind the backsliding of third-wave democracies in East Asia, North Africa and Latin America.  From 2005-2018, the ratio of democratic satisfaction and democratic support in Latin America decreased from 47:65% to 25:52%; in North Africa from 56:77% to 50:71%; in East Asia from 70:65% to 68:60%. The problems of governance have created an institutional imbalance between the executive and legislature; the people hope more on strong executives for the solutions of their problems, but in actuality they dodged the check and balance system and pave the way for electoral autocracy. The authors conclude that the retreat of the third-wave of democratization was worrying but not threatening; results based on popular surveys showed a precipitous fall in support for democracy across countries during 2005-2018, with much stronger reasons for pessimism and which suggests that solving the structural and institutional problems responsible for poor governance and eroded mechanisms of popular accountability is the only way to make up democracy’s lost decade.

By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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