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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Fourth Wave Democracy and the Middle East?

Democracy as a political system, as an ideology was still developing right from Ancient Greece to the founding of the United States. Even today, nobody can claim that of having the perfect democratic society or democratic government. In 1991, Samuel Huntington wrote about three waves of democracy, dividing and grouping democracies from around the world according to the time of their democratization.

The First Wave Democracy took place in the early 19th Century right through the end of the First World War. Democracies that came out of the century long First Wave Democracy are the United States, Great Britain and part of its empire (Australia, Canada, and New Zealand), France, and the rest of Western Europe, as well as Latin American countries. The First Wave Democracy ended years after the First World War when idealism gave birth to the rise of communism in Russia and Nazism in Germany that leads to the Second World War. We also need to note that some of the most established Western democracies (USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Iceland, Switzerland, and Finland) came out of this period remained democratic to this very day.

The Second Wave Democracy started even before the end of the Second World War. Some First Wave Democracies reverted to authoritarianism in the 1920s, regained their democracy after the Second World War and they were joined by newly independent states (former European colonies in Asia and Africa). New democracies that came out of the almost two decades long Second Wave Democracy are the Philippines, India, Israel, Malaysia, Brazil, South Korea, etc. Unlike the First Wave Democracy, the Second Wave did not last long as many of newly independent democracies experimented with authoritarianism or communism. While others did not see, democracy fit their culture and way of life.

The Third Wave Democracy started when Spain turn democracy and the spontaneous rise of the people power phenomenon in the Philippines that inspired subsequent people’s power uprisings ending the Cold War. Many of the new democracies that emerged from the Third Wave Democracy are former communist states in Eastern Europe and former states within the former Soviet Union.

Some say that we are still in the period of the Third Wave Democracy since there was few reversals back to authoritarianism after 1991 while others argued that the Third Wave Democracy ended and has been replace by the Fourth Wave Democracy.

Now that some countries are slowly integrating into one huge federal union such as the European Union (EU) and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), we might be in the process towards the Fourth Wave Democracy. I noticed a new type of people power unlike those in the mid-1980s to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. This new type of people power is a mass-type violent protests that in my opinion might have started in May 2001 known as EDSA Tres in the Philippines. That event failed but the same type of mob rebellions followed from Thailand to Iran and just recently, Tunisia. Now, in democracy, people have every right to run to the streets whether they are paid or they are passionate of their cause. It is their right to rally in the streets to voice their demands or concerns or to remove and replace governments. The new type of people power sound violent but it is still democracy in many ways. If we look at the American Declaration of Independence (1776), it says:
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The recent people’s power uprising in Tunisia could be the beginning of the Fourth Wave Democracy and its now being emulated in Egypt and Lebanon. Eventually, the new democratic wave will sweep the Middle East right in our very eyes but I could be wrong.

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