Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
This essay incorporates and generalises the author's earlier, more quantitative work, prolonged over three decades, on the social requisites of democracy. The paper deals with the factors and processes affecting prospects for the institutionalisation of democracy. Among other issues, it focuses on cultural, religious and economic variables, on the debate btween electoral systems (presidential versus parliamentary), on the importance of a participatory civil society and the rule of law and on the methods by which political parties ought to be structured if they are to achieve and maintain stability. Research results suggest the need for considerable caution vis-à-vis the long-term prospects for stable democracy in many of the newer systems, given their low level of legitimacy due to a variety of factors: the absence in many cases of a participatory civil society, the lack of consolidated parties, the negative impact in many countries of religious traditions and the hardships of the transition from a command economy to a market one. Yet the various factors reviewed here only shape the structural probabilities for democracy – they do not determine outcomes. Specific outcomes depend on particular contexts, as well as on the choices, conduct and decisions of political leaders and groups.