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100 Foreign Aff. 183 (2021)
The Spanish Miracle: Democracy's Triumph over Tyranny and Corruption

handle is hein.journals/fora100 and id is 185 raw text is: The Spanish
Miracle
Democracy's Triumph Over
Tyranny and Corruption
Omar G. Encarnacion
A People Betrayed: A History of
Corruption, Political Incompetence, and
Social Division in Modern Spain
BY PAUL PRESTON. Liveright, 2020,
768 pp.
Nearly three decades have passed
since the 1991 publication of
the political scientist Samuel
Huntington's The Third Wave, the most
important scholarly take on the global
democratic transformation that took
place in the late twentieth century. The
book traced democratic openings
around the world, beginning with the
1974 Carnation Revolution in Portugal,
which ended the West's longest dicta-
torship, and concluding with the de-
mocratization of eastern Europe follow-
ing the collapse of communism and the
disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Between those two landmark events,
nearly 30 new democracies emerged.
According to Huntington, this was the
third time such a wave had washed over
the world; the first arrived in the
nineteenth century, with the advent of
OMAR G. ENCARNACION is Professor of
Political Studies at Bard College and the author
of Democracy Without Justice in Spain: The
Politics of Forgetting.

mass democracy in the United Kingdom
and the United States, and the second
came in the immediate aftermath of
World War II, ushered in by the democ-
ratization of West Germany and Japan.
He attributed the third wave to a
number of factors, including the eco-
nomic expansion of the postwar years,
the liberalizing reforms undertaken by
the Vatican, the embrace of democracy
promotion as a foreign policy tool by
the United States and European coun-
tries, and the phenomenon of snowball-
ing, or countries copying one another's
democratic transitions. Huntington also
emphasized the important role that
domestic elites played in democratiza-
tion. Democracies are created not by
causes but by causers, he wrote, and
although grassroots movements often
catalyzed change, democracy could
consolidate only when elites embraced it.
But in the years since Huntington
observed the third wave, the tide has
turned. Many young democracies have
witnessed what political scientists call
democratic backsliding: a reversion to
the illiberalism of an earlier era and the
deterioration of democratic norms,
practices, and institutions. In some cases,
most notably Hungary and Poland,
once promising democracies are now
breaking down. Others, such as Russia,
have long since passed that point and
have settled into authoritarianism. And
the phenomenon is not exclusive to the
postcommunist world. Across Latin
America, backsliding has taken a heavy
toll on countries such as Argentina,
Brazil, and Venezuela.
One third-wave country that has
notably avoided such backsliding is Spain,
which began to transition to democracy
in 1975 with the passing of Francisco

January/February 2021 183

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