Is democracy exportable? How does the democratic spirit arise in people, and in effect, how does one become a citizen of a democracy? And how is democracy established given the difficulties present where it would exist? What have been called democratic transitions have inspired hope for nearly thirty years, what with the fall of dictatorship in Spain and the disappearance of military regimes in Latin America, followed by the end of the Communist domination of Eastern Europe. But the hour of dissolution has sounded quickly in the wake of the rending apart of the former Yugoslavia and the Caucasus, the drift toward "authoritarian democracy" in Russia, the political impasse in Africa or greater still the corruption of liberty undertaken by current religious fundamentalists, as in the "ballistic democracy" of the Middle East.
Succumbing neither to absolute pessimism nor to blindness, this work reviews the likelihood of the consolidation of young democracies and the establishment of numerous, enduring authoritarian systems. It reminds us that the phenomenon of democratization is nothing new, and that it affected, in its time, Western Europe. This book then examines the obstacles blocking the way as the crucial role of political actors, who succeed or fail in the forever hazardous enterprise of a passage into democracy. Finally it observes how the classic democratic model again finds itself in competition with today's “illiberal” democracies, or by the combination of economic permissiveness and political inflexibility which today characterizes the “Beijing consensus.”