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Democracy and Violence in Brazil

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2000

Teresa P. R. Caldeira
University of California at Irvine
James Holston
University of California at San Diego
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Democracy has expanded remarkably throughout the world during the last quarter of the twentieth century. In 1972, there were fifty-two electoral democracies, constituting 33 percent of the world's 160 sovereign nation-states. By 1996, the number had risen to 118 electoral democracies out of 191 states, or 62 percent of the total, for a net gain of 66 democratic states. Among the larger countries with a population of one million people or more, the number of political democracies nearly tripled during the same period.We derive these data on electoral democracies from the annual world surveys that Freedom House has compiled systematically since 1972. Although crucial in its own right, we are critical of the electoral approach in evaluating democracy, as will become clear below. If it took two hundred years of political change from the Age of Revolution to 1970 to generate about fifty new democratic states, it has taken only ten years since the mid-1980s to yield the same number again. This movement of political democratization has swept over every region of the globe, taking root in societies with very different cultures and histories, from Papua New Guinea to Botswana, Brazil, and Bulgaria. In the one region where it has not transformed the nature of national rule, the Middle East, it has nevertheless generated a plethora of local democratic projects and debates. At the end of the millennium, democracy has indisputably become a global value adopted by the most diverse societies.

Research Article
© 1999 Society for Comparative Study of Society and History