After the dramatic events in Eastern Europe in 1989–1990 and their repercussions in other parts of the world, many of these authoritarian regimes disappeared. To a large extent, they were replaced by liberal democracies. Nevertheless, in some regions, most conspicuously in the Middle East, nondemocratic regimes persisted (e.g., the monarchies and sheikdoms in the Arabian peninsula, the personalistic military dictatorships in Iraq, Lybia, and Syria, or the "semicompetitive" systems in Egypt and Tunisia). In other areas, as in parts of the former Soviet Union, communist regimes were transformed into "post-totalitarian" but still harshly authoritarian and personalistic "new oligarchic" or "sultanistic" ones, In other cases, the newly established democratic forms of government remained defective with respect to important aspects such as truly "free and fair" elections, meaningful popular participation, and the guarantee of the rule of law and basic human rights. Some authors termed these regimes purely "electoral," "illiberal," or "delegative" democracies. In most cases, they resemble the former "semi-competitive" or even "new oligarchic" types.
Thus, at the beginning of the twenty-first century authoritarianism has been on the decline and at least the worst totalitarian forms of rule, with the possible exception of some fundamentalist "theocratic" ones, seem to be over. New variants, however, may yet occur and there remain certain authoritarian and populist dangers in some of the longer-established democracies as well.
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Dahl, Robert A. Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1971.
Hermet, Guy, Richard Rose, and Alain Rouquié, eds. Elections without Choice. New York: Macmillan, 1978.
Linz, Juan J. "Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes." In Handbook of Political Science, vol. 3: Macropolitical Theory, edited by Fred I. Greenstein and Nelson W. Polsby. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1975.
Linz, Juan J., and Alfred C. Stepan. Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996.
O'Donnell, Guillermo A. Modernization and Bureaucratic-Authoritarianism: Studies in South American Politics. Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, University of California, 1973.
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