What were the international causes and of the "Third Wave of Democratization?"

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The term “third wave of democratization was originated by Samuel Huntington in 1991.  It is a somewhat controversial term among scholars.  Huntington argues that most of the causes of this wave of democratization were international, as opposed to being based on internal or domestic factors.  Let us look at the most important of these factors:

  • Efforts by the US and the European Union to spread democracy.  Throughout the Cold War, and up to the present, the major democratic countries of the world have tried to push other countries towards democracy.
  • Globalization of the economy.  This has caused a great deal of economic growth in many parts of the world.  Often, economic growth comes along with greater expectations among the populations of growing countries.  People move into the middle class, have more secure and stable lives, and start to want more of a say in their governance.
  • Social globalization.  People in various countries also came to see more and know more about the rich world.  They started to understand how restrictive their governments were in comparison to democratic governments.  This helped cause them to demand more democracy.
  • Changes in the Catholic Church.  After the 1960s, the Church became somewhat more liberal.  These changes helped to push some heavily Catholic countries (such as the Philippines and Poland) toward democracy.

These are the main international reasons for the third wave of democratization.