Forging Democracy from Below by Elizabeth Jean Wood

Forging Democracy from Below by Elizabeth Jean Wood

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ISBN: 9780521788878

Publisher: Cambridge University Press, December 2000

Paperback, 247 pages

The recent replacement of authoritarian rule by democracy in both South Africa and El Salvador poses a puzzle: why did the powerful and fervently anti-democratic elites of these countries abandon death squads, apartheid, and the other tools of political repression and take a chance on democracy? Forging Democracy from Below, first published in 2000, shows how popular mobilization - in El Salvador an effective guerilla army supported by peasant collaboration and in South Africa a powerful alliance of labor unions and poor urban dwellers - eventually forced the elite to the bargaining table, and why both a durable settlement and democratic government were the result. Using interviews with both insurgent and elite actors as well as statistical analysis of macroeconomic developments, Elisabeth Wood documents an 'insurgent path to democracy' and challenges the view that democracy is the result of compromise among elite factions or the modernizing influence of economic development.