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But turfing out an autocrat turns out to be much easier than setting up a viable democratic government.The new regime stumbles, the economy flounders and the country finds itself in a state at least as bad as it was before.Yet these days the exhilaration generated by events like those in Kiev is mixed with anxiety, for a troubling pattern has repeated itself in capital after capital. Regime-sanctioned thugs try to fight back but lose their nerve in the face of popular intransigence and global news coverage.
The collapse of the Soviet Union created many fledgling democracies in central Europe.
By 2000 Freedom House, an American think-tank, classified 120 countries, or 63% of the world total, as democracies.
In the first half of the 20th century nascent democracies collapsed in Germany, Spain and Italy.
By 1941 there were only 11 democracies left, and Franklin Roosevelt worried that it might not be possible to shield “the great flame of democracy from the blackout of barbarism”.
Even in established democracies, flaws in the system have become worryingly visible and disillusion with politics is rife.
Yet just a few years ago democracy looked as though it would dominate the world.
And within the West, democracy has too often become associated with debt and dysfunction at home and overreach abroad.
Democracy has always had its critics, but now old doubts are being treated with renewed respect as the weaknesses of democracy in its Western strongholds, and the fragility of its influence elsewhere, have become increasingly apparent. THE two main reasons are the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the rise of China.
Representatives of more than 100 countries gathered at the World Forum on Democracy in Warsaw that year to proclaim that “the will of the people” was “the basis of the authority of government”.
A report issued by America’s State Department declared that having seen off “failed experiments” with authoritarian and totalitarian forms of government, “it seems that now, at long last, democracy is triumphant.”Such hubris was surely understandable after such a run of successes.