During the past quarter-century the "third wave" of global democratisation has taken place, and transformed the global political landscape in the process. Over 60 countries from around the world have moved from authoritarian rule towards some kind of democratic regime. Whilst establishing these democratic systems represented a complicated process over which a number of difficulties and setbacks had to be overcome, it has since become apparent that sustaining democracy is often as difficult a task as establishing it. This is reflected in the fact that not all of the democracies introduced in the past have survived. Examples of this can be seen in sub-Saharan Africa where, by the end of 1995, just a few years after it was introduced, democracy had already failed in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia. Pressing concerns have since arisen about how to strengthen and stabilise these new democratic regimes and .
this had led to what we now consider as the concept of "democratic consolidation". .
The title of this essay is to establish "what factors explain the process of consolidation". I will seek to do this by first establishing exactly what democratic consolidation is considered to be. I will then discuss what the different areas of consolidation are and the factors that are involved in the process.
Definitions put forwards by various political theorists as to what democratic consolidation actually is vary. The Penguin Dictionary of Politics refers to democratic consolidation as "the prevention of breakdown or regression of democracy." This is a short and concise definition compared to the one put forwards by Przeworski. "Democracy is consolidated when under given political and economic conditions a particular system of institutions becomes the only game in town and when no-one can imagine acting outside of democratic institutions." Although Przeworski's definition is not as direct and concise, there are obvious similarities allowing us to establish the key ideas concerning democratic consolidation.