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Rodrigo Pena Barbeito


A comparat!" #oco$o%ca$ r"!"&
Ro'r%o P"(a )ar*"to
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
Abstract: This following essay will attent to offer a sociological review of the southern europe
transitions to democracy -Greece Portugal and !pain- in the "#$s % All of them considered in the
T+r' ,a!" D"mocrac-
phenomenom% The paper will try to point out the similarities and
differences between those porcesses towards democracy specially in the role of the civil society and
the state powers% &n the end we will try to state a conclusion in the matter of why these transitions
happened and why they did or did not follow the same paths% The paper will also briefly consider
the italian case given the fact that its transition happened in different circunstances and before those
other three countries%
'eywords: (emocracy transition southern europe Greece Portugal !pain &taly Third )ave
(emocracy civil society%
1 This term was coined by !amuel P% *untington a political scientist at *arvard +niversity in his article published in
the Journal of Democracy and further e,pounded in his 1--1 boo. The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late
Twentieth Century%
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
0oting that the democrati3ation came in waves as *untington suggests
the first wave of
democracy began in the early 1-th century when suffrage was granted to the ma4ority of white
males in the +nited !tates 567ac.sonian democracy68% At its pea. the first wave saw /-
democracies in the world% This continued until 1-// when Benito 9ussolini rose to power in &taly%
The ebb of the first wave lasted from 1-// until 1-:/ during which the number of democracies in
the world dropped to a mere 1/ than.s to this reverse wave%
The second wave began following the Allied victory in )orld )ar && and crested nearly /# years
later in 1-;/ with <; recognised democracies in the world% The second wave ebbed as well at this
point and the total number dropped to <# democracies between 1-;/ and the mid-1-"#s% But the
6flat line6 would not last for long as the third wave was about to surge in a way no one had ever
seen% &taly was one of those countries that became a democracy following the ))&& therefore its
transition is not part of the same wave as the portuguese spanish or gree. ones%
The Third wave began in 1-": 52arnation Revolution Portugal8 and included the historic
democratic transitions in =atin America in the 1->#s Asia Pacific countries 5Philippines !outh
'orea and Taiwan8 from 1->; to 1->> and ?astern ?urope after the collapse of the !oviet +nion%
?,act tallies of the number of democracies vary depending on the criteria used for assessment but
by some measures there are well over 1## democracies in the world today a mar.ed increase in 4ust
a few decades% 9any of these newer democracies are not fully 6consolidated6 however meaning
that while they have electoral institutions in place political democracy remains fragile% Reasons for
this fragility include economic instability continued elite dominance of politics ongoing military
interference in civilian affairs and others% !pain Portugal -as mentioned above- and Greece are
embodied in this third wave%
&n adition to *untington in the late >#$s =i4phart and other authors e,amined similarities and
differences between !outhern ?uropean democracies 5Portugal !pain &taly and Greece8 also in
comparison with other democratic countries in terms of ma4oritarian and consensual types of
democracy 5see also =i4phart 1->:8% Their conclusion was that those countries did not form a
distinctive and cohesive cluster: Portugal was consensual and unitary !pain ma4oritarian and semi-
federal &taly consensual and slightly decentrali3ed and Greece ma4oritarian and unitary%
@urthermore they stressed that Athe changes that seem li.ely to occur in !pain Portugal and Greece
will all have the effect of reinforcing the ma4oritarianism of already ma4oritarian regimes and
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
similarly of reinforcing the consensualism of already consensual systems% This means that the four
countries are much more li.ely to move farther away from each other than to draw togetherB
5=i4phart et al% 1->> //8
&a!" .
&a!" 1
&a!" 0
period 1>/>-1-/; 1-//-:/ 1-:<-;/ 1-C>-"C -1-": 1->#$s
s 508
<< 5ma,%8 11 5min%8 C/ 5ma,%8 <# 5min%8 ;C 5ma,%8 as of 1->-
Roots @rench Revolution
and American
alienation of
5<#s8 rise of
@ascism and
allied occupation
after the war
5Germany &taly
7apan8 and
shift toward
D &!&8 issues with
disillusionment with
!chool military
coups nation-
buildingE 2old )ar
ban.ruptcy of
of 2old )ar
Remar.s a bifurcation between
6older6 democracies
and 6newer6 ones -
succumb to reverse
democracy6 on
losers populist
democracy 5=A
Peron8 short-lived
produces tenuous
most new nations in
Africa not
democratic BA
growth and political
constitutes a
challenge to
)ithdrawal of
replacement of
military regimes
economic crisis
5debt inflation
liberali3ation in
!uffrage 5C#F adult
males8 and
responsible govt%
5cabinet to
parliament periodic
e,panded suffrage
51##F males and
start for women
+niversal suffrage
Periodic open
and competitive
< !ource: *untington 51--1: /;8 Russet 51--<: 1<>8
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
T+" arr!" a(' co(#o$'ato( o2 t+" '"mocrac-3 a general approach in the matter the first thing that should be pointed out are the main
causes for these transitions% *ere following *untington analysis again we could offer at least the
reasons he argued for the third wave transtions to democracy% *e e,plained five defining factors:
1) The deepening legitimacy prolem! of authoritarian regime! in a world where democratic value! were
widely accepted" the con!e#uent dependence of the!e regime! on !ucce!!ful performance$ and their
inaility to maintain %perforrnance legitimacy% due to economic &and !ometime! military) failure"
') The unprecedented gloal economic growth of the 1()*!" which rai!ed living !tandard!$ increa!ed
education$ and greatly e+panded the uran middle cla!! in many countrie!"
,) - ! !hift in the doctrine and aclivitie! of the Catholic Church$ manife!ted in the /ccond 0atican
Council of 1(),1)2 and the tran!fornlation of national Catholic churche! from defender! of the !tatu!
#uo to opponent! of authoritariani!m"
3) Change! in the policie! of e+ternal actor!$ mo!t notaly the 4uropean Community$ the 5nited /tate!" and
the /oviet 5nion"
2) %/nowalling"% or the demon!tration effect of tran!ition! earlier in thc third wave in !timulating and
providing model! for !u!e#uent effort! at democratization"6
5*untington 1--1::8
The third wave of the 1-"#s and 1->#s was overwhelmingly a 2atholic wave% Beginning in
Portugal and !pain however Greece is an 1rthodo, country thus it can$t be putted in the e,act
same category% &t would be more accurate then to say that these tird wave countries were in their
ma4ority not protestants%
(uring the third wave the ?uropean 2ommunity played a .ey role in consolidating democracy in
southern ?urope% &n Greece !pain and Portugal the establishment of democracy was seen as
necessary to secure the economic benefits of ?uropean 2ommunity membership while 2ommunity
membership was in turn seen as a guarantee of the stability of democracy% &n 1->1 Greece became
a full member of the 2ommunity and five years later !pain and Portugal did as well% )e also would
have to consider the role of the +nited !tates in previous years the )hite *ouse wasn$t so hard
with the dictatorship regimenes as long as they served american interests% But by the end of the "#$s
and in the >#$s this american international relations behavior had changed and therefore it was
another big cause in favor of the new democracies%
!eing other countries becoming a democracy 5snowball effect8 was another factor not always
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
enough though if a country lac.s favorable internal conditions however snowballing alone is
unli.ely to bring about democrati3ation% The democrati3ation of countries A and B is not a reason
for democrati3ation in country 2 unless the conditions that favored it in the former also e,ist in the
latter% Although the legitimacy of democratic government came to be accepted throughout the world
in the 1->#s economic and social conditions favorable to democracy were not everywhere present%
The 6worldwide democratic revolution6 may create an e,ternal environment conducive to
democrati3ation but it cannot produce the conditions necessary for democrati3ation within a
particular country% & would state that in the spanish case the e,ternal actors and the snowballing
effect had a significant impact% &n !pain there was nothing similar to a revolution but a false sense
of organic transition% &t wasn$t until the dictatorship @ranco$s death when the democracy was even
considered- although in see. of legetimation the regime had made some steps before to apear an
almost democratic country- and thus revolution and specially the catholic church were not main
factors here althought the citi3enship claimed for democracy 5with demonstrations and riots mostly
student movements8 it was more a lac. of power after @ranco$s death than a real transition in the
first place% &n Portugal and Greece the causes seem to be more internal and there was an actual
revolution against the former portuguese military government and the gree. military government
itself 4ust dropped the power% As for &taly we have to .eep in mind that its transition did not ta.e
part in the same wave as the rest of the southern europe countries% But we have to say that here the
e,ternal actors played the ma4or role after the ))&& &taly as one of the defeated countries with
authoritarian goverments was led into democracy by the +%!%A and the allies%
At this point it is necessary to say that in the literature about the southern europe transitions to
democracy one can find a large number of important scholarly wor.s on the return of democracy to
Portugal !pain and Greece% But most analysis have shied away from broad comparative
generali3ations however with e,ceptions the most important contributions have come from
country-specific studies many of them emphasi3ing the distinctiveness of their national cases%
1ne great e,ception to the general absence of significant comparative and theoretical wor. on these
democrati3ations is Transitions from Authoriarian Rule
edited by 1$(onnell !chimitter and
)hitehead% &n his introductory essay to the volume on !outhern ?urope !chimitter notes that the
contributors to that pro4ect concluded that tran!ition! from authoritarian rule and immediate pro!pect! for
: 1$(onnell G% et al% Transitions from authoritarian rule: !outhern ?urope
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
democracy were largely to e e+plained in term! of national force! and calculation!6 !chimitter 51->#:<8
!o the internal movements would be the main engine for these transitions rather than of the
international dynamics although the international conte,t of the !outhern ?uropean cases rendered
successful redemocrati3ation more li.ely there than in =atin America% The country chapters that
follow which cover &taly and Tur.ey in addition to Greece Portugal and !pain tend to emphasi3e
specifically political actions and paths -including significant contributions to regime change by
some of the very forces that held or helped to e,ercise authoritarian political power% ?arlier
narrowly class-based and internationally oriented theories of the !outhern ?uropean transitions

find little resonance in the interpretive essays of this volume%

The ma4or attempt in the Transitions volume on !outhern ?urope
to account for the rough political
parallelism G that is the historical simultaneity of roughly similar political developments across
national boundaries G long noted by many analysts of the southern region of ?urope is the broadly
posed and subtle analysis of the spanish sociologist !alvador Giner% &n a contribution that
encompases nineteenth G and twentieth - century political development Giner emphasi3es the
AunevennesB of southern european societies and political forces G their heterogeneity and
contradictions G rather than focusing on any specific and immutable configuration of sociopolitical
forces% *e maintains that:
The inner contradiction! of each one of the!e a!ic component! 7 limited parlamentariani!m$ re!tricted and
divided lierali!m$ !tunted reformi!m$ and utopian imperiali!m 7 irrevocaly led the!e !ocietie! toward a !pecific
form of cla!! de!poti!m$ namely 8a!ci!t or fa!ci!ti!ant dictator!hip""" Giner 51->#:/<8
)hat remains somewhat unclear is how such a comple, and subtly described problem of
unevenness and contradiction can AirrevocablyB lead to a Aspecific form of class despotismB%
?normous differences among the three 5plus &taly8 cases in the timing of political changes the
longevity of nondemocratic regimes and the political forms ta.en by nondemocratic rule ma.e it
difficult to sustain the strong assertion of an irrevocable tendency toward eHuivalence in the
political development of these countries%
Although Giner$s essay is enormously suggestive it fails to resolve adeHuately the large Huestion of
5imperfect8 political parallelism and historical clustering% !trong causal claims prove difficult to
advance unless the differences as well as the similarities among the cases are systematically
incorporated into the analysisE in order to do that we need conceptual distintions that allow us to
point out capital differences% +nless one ac.nowledges and sense out og the variations
C The ma4or e,ample would be Poulant3as 0% The crisis of the dictatorships 51-";8 which offers a more international
political view to this topic%
; 9p" cit"
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
among the countries one is left with too many e,ceptions to any comparative assertion whether it
concerns the political role of the military the place of a single party in nondemocratic rule or the
character of the crisis leading to the demise of authoritarian rule%
&n accounting for the return of the analy3ed countries to democracy Giner lays his argument in the
erosion of legitimacy for the authoritarian systems the conseHuences of economic development
and the contribution to democrati3ation by some of the political forces inside the structure of
authoritarian political power% &n his emphasis on the delegitimation of authoritarian regimes as well
as in his discussion of the role of forces to be found within the circle of power Giner touches upon
topics widely emphasi3ed by analysts of the transitions% &t is precisely on these two Huestions G the
sources of the delegitimation of authoritarian rule and the location of the impetus toward democratic
change within the circles of political power G that an analysis of the differences among the southern
european cases yields significant insights%
)e have to consider now for a final deeper analysis what differences emerged in the southern
european countries with the arrive of the democracy% )as the same democracy for all these
countriesI And which obstacles faced these new democraciesI
(espite the differences among the cases and the absence of any strong evidence for a parsimonious
largely class-based or internationally focused macro-level e,planation
the historical clustering of
the e,periences of !pain Portugal and Greece remains an intriguing fact% There is a sense in which
authoritarian rule was Ae,haustedB in all three societies at about the same time G unable to resolve
the basic political challenges of legitimation and institutionali3ation at a time when crisis to one
degree or another prevented the regimes from continuing on effortlessly through the sheer force of
inertia% But the fact that this e,haustion concurs in the three societies does not guarantee that its
causes were the same or the path of redemocrati3ation would be similar for Greece !pain and
Portugal% &n most of these essays embodied in the Transitions volume the importance of social
forces in undermining authoritarian rule is almost certainly understated
% Anyway the political
focus including the attention directed to the issue of legitimation and the emphasis on the political
orientation of forces located within the circle of political power seems consistently useful in
analy3ing the southern european cases included &taly%
!chmitter asserts that the best hope for the restoration of democracy is to be found not so much in
" This is not to argue that class forces or the international conte,t were irrelevant as we said before it wasn$t li.e that%
But the point is that these forces are not the sole determinants of political developments and actions%
> The civil society held a role in those transitions though labor and student movements have to be pointed out% )or.s
on this matter can be found at least for the spanish case but not for the others to complete a comparative analysis
!ee: Pere3 (ia3 J% 51->"8 A?l retorno de la sociedad civilB or Jalen3uela !%7 51->-8 A=abor movements in
transitions to democracyB
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
the relations between state and civil society as within the structure of authoritarian rule itself% *e
focuses on both the authoritarian regime and the state apparatus without drawing a distinction
between the two% This appears to fit the Portuguese case given the fact that the remants 5or most of
them8 of @ranco$s regime helped to build the reform-oriented process of change in !pain and that
the Gree. military e,tricated itself from political power !chmitter$s perspective appears to be
useful for the three cases% But in the end the differences in the processes are wide enough to have
led to rather different outcomes%
&n !pain the ob4ective of returning to democracy eventually came to be assumed by significant
sectors within the regime% @ollowing the death of @ranco and under pressure from the opposition
these sectors began the difficult but ultimately successful process of transition by negociated
reform% The specific location of the impetus for the change helped produce a new political system in
which the authoritarian regime was never totally re4ected symbolically even though it was fully
superseded and transformed% By helping to initiate the transition the reformist sector of the old
regime participated in the shaping of the new one% The spanish transition was the only one in
southern ?urope in which no purge of the state was possible moreover the fear of a military
intervention against democracy helped to restrain the more radical instincts of some political actors%
&n Portugal on the other hand the regime proved incapable of such a thing% Thus the political
actors of the old regime lost their ability to shape the new democracy% &nstead the impetus for
change came from the state in the form of a middle-level officers$ revolt in the military% The regime
was actually overthrown G nothing li. in !pain G ending in revolutionary mobili3ations that have
left enduring mar. on Portugal%
&n Greece as in Portugal the military helped to initiate the political change% &n the Gree. case
however it os difficult to locate this initiative sHuarely in the regime% &n a sense one can argue that
the gree. military acted mora as an institution of the state than of the regime% After the military
crisis with Tur.ey over 2yprus the armed forces$ highest leadership reinstituted military-
institutional control and handed over power to civilian democratic politicians%
To sum up the gree. military acted as a whole institution not li.e the portuguese one% Therefore it
was no chance for revolution% The gree. case 5in some aspects8 might be seen as between the
spanish and the portuguese% The distintion between regime and state is important not only for
identifying the source of the democrati3ing iniciative but for understanding the ne,t tragectory of
political change% Those changes led to bigger differences than similarities as =ip4art would state
later in the >#$s Portugal was consensual and unitary !pain ma4oritarian and semi-federal &taly
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
consensual and slightly decentrali3ed and Greece ma4oritarian and unitary% !pain was charactari3ed
by the consensus while Portugal not only by the purge but for the dramatic political conflicts and
revolutionary mobili3ations%
Are the southern europe transitions to democracy a clusterI
?ven though Greece !pain and Portugal are included in the third wave democracy and they came
from authoritarian regimes towards democracy almost at the same time the similarities seem to be
too shallow% 1nce we analy3e these countries phenomenoms the causes and results we see
peculiarities that shifted them away in this terms and that are showed in the different .ind of
democratic goverments that resulted from those transitions% Thus we should conclude that although
international and cross-national historical conte,ts contributed somewhat to each of the transitions
the three cases do not follow a unified logic% )hen comparative analysis focuses on the differences
as well as the similarities one must be prepared to find that some instances of historical
convergence may 4ust be 4ust accidents in timing as much as to any causal configuration% &n the end
we have to step away from the original idea brought by *untington of a unified democratic wave at
least in these mediterranean cases%
Rodrigo Pena Barbeito
Gunther R% et al% !pain after @ranco: The of a 2ompetitive Party !ystem
1$(onnell G% et al% Transitions from authoritarian rule: !outhern ?urope
*untington P%! 51--18 The Third )ave: (emocrati3ation in the =ate Twentieth 2entury%
=i4phart A 51->:8 Democracie!: :attern! of ;a<oritarian = Con!en!u! >overnment in Twenty1one
Countrie!% 0ew *aven: Kale +niversity Press
=in3 7% D !tepan A% 51--;8 Problems of (emocratic Transition and 2onsolidation 57ohns *op.ins
+niversity Press8%
@ishman R 51--#8 !tate and Regime: !outhern ?uropeLs Transition to (emoracy% )orld
Politics :/ ://-:#%
Poulant3as 0% The crisis of the dictatorships 51-";8
=iebert +% 51->>8 Parlamento y consolidaciMn de la democracia en la ?uropa del !ur% R?&!
maga3ine :/ -<-11;
GMme3 @ernNnde3 A% B% 5/#118 =A ==?GA(A (? =A (?912RA2&A A= 9?(&T?RRO0?1:
=A! TRA0!&2&10?! (? P1RT+GA= GR?2&A K ?!PAPA% +niversidad de 7aen% *A1=
0Qm% /C 5Primavera /#118 "-1>
Tsiridis G% 5/##;8 !1+T*?R0 ?+R1P? &0 219PARAT&J? P?R!P?2T&J? : (?912RAT&2
TRA0!&T&10! &0 P1RT+GA= GR??2? A0( !PA&0% +ltrech +niversity
Geoffrey Pridham The (ynamics of (emocrati3ation : A 2omparative Approach 5=ondon:
2ontinuum /###8 pp% C-1#
Richard Gunther 0i.iforos P% (iamandouros and *ans- 7Rurgen Puhle The Politics of (emocratic