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 chapter focuses on electoral systems and institutional design in new democracies. It first compares Maurice Duverger’s electoral laws with those of Giovanni Sartori before discussing the main insights from the literature on electoral systems in established democracies as well as evidence from new democracies. It then considers the impact of the electoral law on the type of party system and its role as intermediary between society and government in plural societies. It also examines the party system as an independent variable, along with dependent variables such as the number of political parties, social cleavages, and presidentialism. Finally, it discusses consociational democracy and how electoral system design can be used in managing ethnic conflicts.