Tracking Democracy's Third Wave with the Polity III Data
This article reports and analyzes an updated version of the widely-used Polity II dataset, consisting of annual indicators of institutional democracy and autocracy for 161 states spanning the years from 1946 through 1994. The validity of the Polity III indicators of regime type is supported by their strong correlations (.85 to .92) with seven conceptually and operationally different indicators of democracy developed by other researchers. Comparative analysis of global and regional trends in democracy shows the extent to which the Middle East and Africa lag behind other world regions in the transition to democracy. A series of challenges to the `third wave' of democratization are identified, with particular attention paid to the large numbers of institutionally unconsolidated, or `incoherent', polities that have recently emerged, mainly due to attempts by autocratic elites to contain domestic and international pressures to liberalize their regimes.
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