This chapter examines the key features of modern democracy, as well as its origins. It first explains what democracy means in the field of comparative politics, before discussing different models of democracy, including presidential democracy, parliamentary democracy, and democracies oriented towards consensus or majoritarian rule. It then describes the conditions—economic and political, domestic, and international—that allow some countries to become democratic but preserve others under the rule of dictatorships. In particular, it analyses the variables that facilitate the democratization of dictatorships and the factors that place democracies at risk of becoming authoritarian regimes. Finally, it reflects on the future of democracy and looks at the challenges that lie ahead for new generations of citizens.
This text provides a comprehensive introduction to comparative politics. Comparative politics is an empirical science that deals primarily with domestic politics. It is one of the three main subfields of political science, alongside international relations and political theory. Comparative politics has three goals: to describe differences and similarities between political systems and their features; to explain these differences; and to predict which factors may cause specific outcomes. This edition compares the most important features of national political systems and contains chapters on integration, globalization, and promotion of democracy in non-Western parts of the world. This introductory chapter explains what comparative politics is, and discusses its substance as well as method.