Bruce Morrison » Struggles for Democracy, 1945–Present

Struggles for Democracy, 1945–Present

Struggles for Democracy, 1945–Present

China and governments in Latin America, Africa, and the former Soviet bloc respond to calls for democracy.


Section 1: Democracy

Section 2: The Challenge of Democracy in Africa

Section 3: The Collapse of the Soviet Union

Section 4: Changes in Central and Eastern Europe

Section 5: China: Reform and Reaction


Section 1: Democracy

In Latin America, economic problems and authoritarian rule delay democracy.


Democracy As a Goal


Difficulties in Establishing Democracy

• Common practices include free elections and citizen participation

• Also: majority rule, minority rights, constitutional government

• Difficult to establish democracy—even in U.S., took many years

• These practices need conditions in country to support them

• Education and a stable economy help

• So do individual rights, rule by law, sense of national identity


Dictators and Democracy


Brazil’s Early History

• Brazil: monarchy in 1822, republic controlled by wealthy in 1889

• In 1930s, dictator opposition but builds economy


Kubitschek’s Ambitious Program

• Juscelino Kubitschek builds economy, new capital city—Brasília

• His followers back reforms suppresses, but conservatives object to land reform

• Land reform—breaking up huge estates into holdings for peasants

• Wealthy Brazilians support takeover by military in 1964


Military Dictators

• Military rules for two decades, building economy but cutting wages

• Standard of living—level of material comfort—declines


The Road to Democracy

• In 1980s, Brazil has recession—economic slowdown

• Civilian leaders elected but cannot fix economy


The 2002 Presidential Election

• New election in 2002 includes rivals with different economic views

• Luis Inácio Lula da Silva wins election; hopes to reclaim economy


One-Party Rule


Beginnings of One-Party Domination

• In 1920s and 1930s, leaders build a party that dominates Mexico

• Lázaro Cárdenas rules 1934–1940, next presidents abandon his reforms


The Party Becomes the PRI

• In 1946, main party becomes PRI—Institutional Revolutionary Party

• Party controls government; fraud, corruption mar elections

• In 1968, students and workers protest, soldiers fire on crowd

• Mexico depends on oil and gas income, suffers when prices fall


Economic and Political Crises

• Opposition parties gain support, force reforms in 1988

• In 1994, rebels in southern Mexico state of Chiapas stage uprising


The PRI Loses Control

• Other parties gain many seats in Congress

• Center-right candidate Vicente Fox wins presidency in 2000


New Policies and Programs

• As new president, Fox has many ambitious goals


Political and Economic Disorder


Perón Rules Argentina

• In 1946, Juan Perón becomes dictator in Argentina; ousted in 1955


Repression in Argentina

• Military rules into 1970s, but country develops many problems

• Government moves harshly against opposition, killing many people


Democracy and the Economy

• Government disgraced after losing Falklands war in 1982

• Civilians elected to lead, but cannot solve economic problems


A Growing Crisis

• Economic problems continue with high debt, unemployment


Section 2: The Challenge of Democracy in Africa

As the recent histories of Nigeria and South Africa show, ethnic and racial conflicts can hinder democracy.


Colonial Rule Limits Democracy


European Policies Cause Problems

• Borders of colonies in Africa ignore ethnic, cultural divisions

• As a result, national identity is slow to develop in Africa

• Colonial rule produces economic problems

• Colonial rule also disrupts family, community life


Short-Lived Democracies

• Post-independence governments fragile, vulnerable to military coups 


Civil War in Nigeria


A Land of Many Peoples

• Nigeria has people from three ethnic groups, each with own state

• Country adopts federal system—state, central governments share power


War with Biafra

• In 1960s, country torn by ethnic fighting

• Military imposes martial law—temporary military rule—in 1966

• In 1967, eastern region leaves Nigeria, forms new country of Biafra

• War ends in 1970 with Biafra defeated, Nigeria reunited


Nigeria’s Nation-Building


Federal Government Restored

• In 1970s and 1980s military tries to create stable federal system


A Return to Civilian Rule

• General Sani Abacha overturns election results of 1993, takes power

• He punishes dissidents—government opponents

• In 1999, civilian government finally gains power


President Obasanjo

• Obasanjo tries to build strong, unified Nigeria by ending corruption

• Promotes idea of forgiveness of Nigeria’s debt to rebuild country


South Africa Under Apartheid


Minority Rule

• South Africa gains independence in 1931; white minority rules


Apartheid Segregates Society

• In 1948, National Party enacts apartheid—separation of races

• Government sets up reserves, called homelands, for blacks in 1959


Blacks Protest

• In 1912, blacks form African National Congress (ANC) to protest

• Nelson Mandela—ANC leader imprisoned for 27 years

• Protests rise in 1970s and 1980s, sometimes resulting in violence


Struggle for Democracy


Pressure for Change

• Religious leader Desmond Tutu urges economic pressure on government

• He asks other countries not to trade with South Africa


The First Steps

• In 1990, F.W. de Klerk legalizes ANC frees Mandela from prison

• Parliament repeals apartheid laws, grants rights to blacks

• De Klerk agrees to elections open to all races to be held in 1994


Majority Rule

• In 1994, ANC wins majority of Parliament; Mandela elected president


A New Constitution

• In 1996, new constitution adopted giving equal rights to all


South Africa Today

• In 1999, Thabo Mbeki elected president

• He faces challenges: high crime, unemployment, rampant poverty

• He hopes to increase trade with other countries

• Major problem facing South Africa is high number of people with AIDS


Section 3: The Collapse of the Soviet Union

Democratic reforms bring important changes to the Soviet Union.


Gorbachev Moves Toward Democracy


Problems Develop

• Politburo—ruling committee of Communist Party; rules U.S.S.R. harshly

• Leonid Brezhnev dies in 1982; two successors rule briefly


A Younger Leader

• Mikhail Gorbachev—becomes Soviet leader in 1984

• Young, energetic, skilled, wants to pursue new policies


Glasnost Promotes Openness

• To achieve economic reforms, he needs open dialogue in society

• Promotes new policy of glasnost—openness; dissent allowed


Reforming the Economy and Politics


Economic Restructuring

• People complain about lack of goods; Gorbachev blames old system

• In 1985, he introduces perestroika—policy of economic restructuring

• Hopes to make economy more efficient, productive

Democratization Opens the Political System

• In 1987, he unveils plans to have more democracy

• Voters, given a choice, elect many reformers to new legislature

Foreign Policy

• Gorbachev signs arms control agreements with U.S.


The Soviet Union Faces Turmoil


Ethnic Revolts

• Gorbachev wants to reform Soviet Union, but reforms lead to collapse

• Non-Russian ethnic groups rebel in different republics

Lithuania Defies Gorbachev

• In 1990, Lithuania declares independence

• Gorbachev, fearing similar actions in other republics, sends troops

Yeltsin Denounces Gorbachev

• Reformer Boris Yeltsin rallies people against Communist old guard

• Old-time Communists oppose both Gorbachev and Yeltsin


The August Coup

• In August 1991, hard liners try to seize control of government again

• Thousands of protesters and Yeltsin rally against this move

• Army refuses to attack protesters and coup collapses


End of the Soviet Union

• Government takes actions to punish Communist Party for the coup

• Many republics declare independence; Gorbachev cannot stop them

• Republics form a federation, CIS—Commonwealth of Independent States


Russia Under Boris Yeltsin


Yeltsin Faces Problems

• Yeltsin aims to reform the Russian economy

• Tries “shock therapy”—quick transition to free market system

• New policies bring economic chaos and hardship, political troubles

Chechnya Rebels

• In 1991, Chechnya declares independence from Russia

• Yeltsin attempts to crush rebellion, causing unrest at home

• As conflict continues in 1999, he resigns in favor of Vladimir Putin


Russia Under Vladimir Putin


Troubles Continue in Chechnya

• Fighting drags on in Chechnya

• In 2002, Chechen rebels seize theater in Moscow, many die


Economic, Political, and Social Problems

• Economic problems continue, leading to unstable politics

• Social problems include homelessness, unemployment

• Declines in population, standard of living, average life expectancy


Section 4: Changes in Central and Eastern Europe

Changes in the Soviet Union lead to changes throughout Central and Eastern Europe.


Poland and Hungary Reform


The Rise of Solidarity

• Workers strike to win recognition of Solidarity—Polish labor union

• Lech Walesa—leader of union—becomes national hero


Solidarity Defeats Communists

• Communist government bans Solidarity but cannot solve economic woes

• In 1988, workers rebel to force recognition of Solidarity

• Elections in 1989 and 1990 make Walesa president of Poland


Poland Votes Out Walesa

• Walesa tries to build free market economy quickly

• Though some progress made, many Poles unhappy; Walesa voted out

Poland Under Kwasniewski

• Alexander Kwasniewski elected president in 1995

• Brings Poland into NATO, tries to build strong market economy


Hungarian Communists Disband

• In 1990, voters elect non-Communist government in Hungary

• Democracy thrives; Hungary joins NATO in 1999


Germany Reunifies


Resistance to Change

• East Germany’s leader resists reforms as in Poland, Hungary

• Thousands of East Germans escape through Hungary to Austria


Fall of the Berlin Wall

• East Germany closes its borders, sparking massive protests

• In late 1989, new East German leader opens Berlin Wall

• By end of year, Communist government there has collapsed 



• Reunification—merging of the two Germanys—achieved in 1990


Germany’s Challenges

• East Germany in poor shape, needs rebuilding

• This costly effort forces German leader Helmut Kohl to raise taxes


A New Chancellor

• In 1998, Kohl voted out of office

• New leader—Gerhard Schroeder—has difficulty reviving economy

• Germany becomes more active in world affairs after reunifying


Democracy Spreads in Czechoslovakia


Czechoslovakia Reforms

• In 1989, large crowd in Prague protests, demands democracy

• Tough government crackdown sparks more protests

• By late 1989, Communists are gone; Václav Havel elected president


Czechoslovakia Breaks Up

• Economic reforms hurt people in Slovakia, eastern part of country

• In 1993, Czechoslovakia splits into two separate countries

• Both economies grow—slow in Czech Republic; faster in Slovakia


Overthrow in Romania


A Popular Uprising

• In late 1989, Romania’s leader has army shoot protestors

• This action prompts major revolt and collapse of Communist rule

• Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and wife executed Christmas Day, 1989


The Romanian Economy

• Corruption and crime prevalent through 1990s; economy lags

• Much of economy still owned by government, not in private hands

• But Government begins moving toward market economy 


The Breakup of Yugoslavia


Ethnic Problems

• Yugoslavia has 8 ethnic groups in a federation of 6 republics


A Bloody Breakup

• Milosevic, Serbian leader, tries to impose control on whole country

• Slovenia and Croatia fight off Serbian army, win independence

• In 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina declares independence; war breaks out

• Serb forces practice ethnic cleansing—getting rid of Bosnian Muslims

• In 1995, U.S., UN establish peace setting up multiethnic government


Rebellion in Kosovo

• In 1998 fighting starts in Kosovo, Serb province of ethnic Albanians

• Serbian army invades to put down Albanian rebels with harsh force

• In 1999, NATO bombs Serbia, forces Serbs to withdraw


The Region Faces Its Problems

• Serbia has new leader; Milosevic faces war crimes trials

• Montenegro and Serbia form loose union, may separate in future


Section 5: China: Reform and Reaction

In response to contact with the West, China’s government has experimented with capitalism but has rejected calls for democracy.


The Legacy of Mao


Problems of Mao’s Rule

• Mao Zedong wants to improve China’s economy, but cannot

• Mao’s policies, a lack of modern technology prevent economic growth

• He launches Cultural Revolution in 1960s to revive Communist spirit

• Its excesses turn many people against communism

• Zhou Enlai—leader in early 1970s—pursues moderate policies




China and the West


China Opened Its Doors

• Zhou worries that China is too isolated from rest of world

• In 1971, U.S. and China begin closer relations


Economic Reform

• In 1976, Mao and Zhou die; moderates take control of Communist Party

• Deng Xiaoping—becomes leader of China by 1980

• Four Modernizations—Deng’s plan for economic progress

• This policy reverses strict Communist policies long backed by Mao


Massacre in Tiananmen Square


Unforeseen Problems

• Reforms lead to some unrest over privileges of Communist leaders

• Western political ideas enter China, encouraging democracy


Students Demand Democracy

• In 1989, students protest in Tiananmen Square—public area in Beijing


Deng Orders a Crackdown

• Deng orders army to surround square, attack protesters

• Attack leaves hundreds dead, thousands wounded

• Government begins large-scale campaign to end dissent


China Enters the New Millennium


China Under Jiang

• In 1997, Deng dies; Jiang Zemin takes power

• Hard liners want Jiang to move away from Deng’s reforms

• In 2002, Jiang steps down in favor of Zhu Rongji

• Both Jiang and Zhu favor continued reforms


Transfer of Hong Kong

• Hong Kong—former British colony, city in China, major economic power

• In 1997, Britain hands Hong Kong back to China


China Beyond 2000  


Economics and Politics

• Economic reforms reduce poverty in China

• Though many countries have economic problems, China’s economy grows

• Many in China want political reforms

• China is becoming more involved with other countries