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Chapter

Cover Comparative European Politics

Introduction  

Rory Costello

This chapter begins by describing the scope and main themes of the book, and explaining the rationale for the countries selected for inclusion. It discusses the prevalence of democracy in Europe, and provides an overview of some of the main similarities and differences between European democracies. A number of recent developments that have challenged the political status quo across the continent are highlighted. The chapter also outlines the general approach taken throughout the book, and discusses the importance of comparison in political research. It concludes with an outline of the book and a brief summary of its three main sections.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to Politics

15. Democracies, Democratization, and Authoritarian Regimes  

Peter Ferdinand

This chapter focuses on democracies, democratization, and authoritarian regimes. It first considers the two main approaches to analysing the global rise of democracy over the last thirty years: first, long-term trends of modernization, and more specifically economic development, that create preconditions for democracy and opportunities for democratic entrepreneurs; and second, the sequences of more short-term events and actions of key actors at moments of national crisis that have precipitated a democratic transition — also known as ‘transitology’. The chapter proceeds by discussing the different types of democracy and the strategies used to measure democracy. It also reviews the more recent literature on authoritarian systems and why they persist. Finally, it examines the challenges that confront democracy in the face of authoritarian revival.