In the concept of « consolidation of democracy », two aspects can lead to misunderstanding. Firstly, one can interrogate on the direction towards which such a consolidation is supposed to tend, as the word « consolidation » implies that democracy already exists, as something is bound to exist if it is in a consolidation phase. In other words, what is « more democracy » compared to « less democracy », or basic democracy? Secondly, the nature of democratic consolidation itself: is it only a phase of democratisation or a continuous process characterising democracy? Since the establishment of the first « modern » democracies at the end of the eighteen century, there have been many interpretations of what should be the main features and characteristics of a democratic regime. Indeed, for the last two centuries, the word democracy has been used in various occasions and to describe highly different forms of governments, some of which were not democratic at all. So how democracy could be defined? This question, which could seem simple at first sight, has been, and is still a source for debate in the world of political science. Indeed, when looking for more precise definitions of democracy than these by Abraham Lincoln, who asserted that democracy was « the government of the people, by the people and for the people », or by Winston Churchill, who described democracy as « the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried », it is relevant to highlight that there is a plurality of approaches among researchers in political science. This plurality is based on qualitative and quantitative tensions within the concept of democracy, also sources for many controversies between specialists of the democratisation processes.
[...] Indeed, as far as the qualitative aspect is concerned, it is significant to underline that the scope of democratic rule varies from one point of view to another, restraining sometimes to some institutional and political features, while including in some other cases economic, social and cultural dimensions. Moreover, concerning the quantitative aspect, more subjective and likely to feed controversies than the previous one, it introduces another variable, in the evaluation of democracy in all the fields we have mentioned previously, that is to say the level of democratization that has been reached in these fields. [...]
[...] As we have mentioned it previously, the European Commission has often claimed for a clarification in the prerogatives and functioning of the institutions of the candidate countries. However, the study reveals that there is still a visible lack of trust towards institutions such as the Parliament, the Government or political parties in the CEECs. Concerning the President, the degree of trust depends on the power the Constitution provides him with. For instance, it is high in the Czech Republic, because the president does not have large prerogatives. [...]
[...] Firstly, concerning the risk of democratic breakdown has been eradicated, thanks to the renewal of the old administration and the military never had a predominant role in the Czech Republic, which is not the case in Slovakia, which has had to make huge efforts in this area in order to fit with the Copenhagen criteria. Moreover, the 1992 Constitution ensures a balanced share of power between the institutions, which prevent one of them to take predominance over the others, included the Presidency, which is an important feature to help avoiding democratic erosion. [...]
[...] Indeed, if the first one mainly claims for focusing on the original meaning of democratic consolidation, which we have already evocated previously (the capacity to avoid democratic breakdown and erosion), whereas the others, in their study, concentrate on political culture (by evaluating system, process and policy cultures) in order to give an overview of the state of democratic consolidation in some CEECs. However, in my view, these two visions of democratic consolidation can be brought together. Indeed, I believe that the study by Peter A. [...]
[...] That is why it seems relevant to underline that we do not speak anymore about a consolidation process in a way that would risk assimilating it to a democratisation process, but in the strict sense of “process which leads consolidated democracy”. A necessary concern before going through our second part is thus to find appropriate criteria or features of a regime which would allow us to evaluate whether a democracy can be considered as consolidated or not. An answer will be to use A. [...]
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