The extent to which newly independent Third World states have adopted the formal institutions of liberal democracy has varied from area to area. In terms of political traditions and practices, Latin America is perhaps the most thoroughly ‘Westernised’ of the areas we examine: practically every country in the region has experimented with liberal democracy, though few have sustained it for long. In Africa, where the period of political independence has been brief, colonial rulers generally attempted to establish institutions shaped in the image of those of the mother country before departing the scene, but these did not long outlive their departure; they soon gave way to a more authoritarian politics reminiscent of that practised under colonial rule, either through military intervention or through the establishment of single parties closely tied to the state. In East and Southeast Asia, where democratic experiments have been far less common, authoritarian parties equally closely linked to the state have been the norm. Even in periods of electoral continuity, severe restrictions have been imposed upon political competition, while state employees have often been enrolled in dominant parties, and state agencies have made systematic use of patronage in order to maintain pro-government majorities.
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