And can liberal democracy overcome the pressures, recognized long ago by Samuel Huntington, arising from the legitimate economic aspirations of a mobilized, frustrated citizenry swollen by an overwhelming demographic explosion?
These acute tensions are intelligently explored in .
At the same time, in a number of countries, political parties are weak and there has been erosion of checks on executive authority.
The Center for American Progress and the Center for Strategic and International Studies released a bipartisan statement of principles signed by members of a high-level working group to emphasize the role of the United States in supporting democratic reforms and inclusive societies abroad as a central pillar of our national security strategy.
The recent collapse of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa during the Arab Spring provides a backdrop to reflect on Latin America's democratic transitions from authoritarian rule during the "Third Wave of Democratization" as well as to review the current health of the region's democracies.
Compared to the paucity of democracies in Latin America at the start of the Third Wave in the mid-1970s, the near-universal presence of democratic regimes today highlights the tremendous democratic progress made in the region over the past three-dozen years.
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In a region once plagued by bloody coups and military interventionism, free and fair elections are now the norm.
Significant economic and social advances, including a sharp decline in poverty levels and even in inequality in some countries, have contributed to improved governance.
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Michael Shifter is President of the Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington, DC–based policy forum on Western Hemisphere Affairs.
As Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen and others have noted, economic and political freedoms are mutually reinforcing, and broader democratic promotion can have a powerful effect in making overall development efforts more effective. A variety of countries are seeking to transition to democracy and are actively seeking America’s help to establish free media; attack corruption; manage public resources effectively; establish property rights; protect the rights of individuals, religious groups, and minorities; ensure the right to petition their elected officials; organize political campaigns; ensure free and fair elections; and establish think tanks.