Democratic countries in the 19th century

Dec 2017
280
Regnum Teutonicum
#1
Which countries in the 19th century had transformed into a democracy (or started as one)? I know from the big players only the USA, Germany and France were democracies, but what about the smaller and less powerful countries? How many of those were democracies? Is there an increasing or decreasing trend?
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,019
Canary Islands-Spain
#2
There're also degrees on democracy.

Spain formally introduced democracy in 1812, with recognized universal sufrage. But the Constitution was abolished in 1814.

In the period 1820-1823, there was a new period of democracy, also truncated.

In 1834, with the "Estatuto Real" and with the Constitution of 1837, a party system and censitary sufrage was introduced. The system was stabilized with the "Restauración" of 1874. This formal democracy, expanded little by little, persisted all through the century. But its quality was extremly low:

"Before the electoral battle" = Because voting and counting was so terrible, that votes of dead people were officially counted

 
Nov 2010
1,269
Bordeaux
#3
I'd say the American democracy was truncated for a long time as it was, to my knowledge, one of the very few democracies in history to have racist/segregationist laws in place.

Usually democracies tend to uphold values of freedom, equality etc at home while at the same time abandoning their principles during foreign interventions or colonial occupations, or more generally when dealing with foreigners for the sake of political or economic interests.

But the US had laws that contradicted the core principles of their democracy and applied legal discrimination against a social group on its own territory, and I've always found this paradox rather disconcerting.

Especially when compared to countries like France which, while being a colonial power, had "coloured" MPs sitting in Parliament from the early 20th century, when the US had legalised racism in place.

The US has always criticised colonial powers by referring to the founding principles of the American democracy, yet denied part of their own citizens the freedom they have been so vocally upholding since their Revolution...

Although imperfect as any other democracy in the world, I think the US became a "full" democracy only when the iniquitous laws of segregation were revoked, and that wasn't so long ago ...
 
Last edited:
May 2011
13,889
Navan, Ireland
#4
Which countries in the 19th century had transformed into a democracy (or started as one)? I know from the big players only the USA, Germany and France were democracies, but what about the smaller and less powerful countries? How many of those were democracies? Is there an increasing or decreasing trend?
Why does Britain not count as a democracy?
 
May 2011
13,889
Navan, Ireland
#6
Maybe the OP considered Britain as a "restrictive" democracy, as it is a Parliamentary Monarchy?
And the USA France and Germany have free 'modern sweeping franchise'?

In the USA during the 19th century ,apart from there being actual slaves for most of it, African American votes are restricted and there were strict property qualifications for white people.

Germany (not existing until 1870) may have had a wide electorate but the parliament had little power and the Kaiser and his military effectively ruled, democracy?

Sorry don't see why Britain's (far from perfect) democracy ,that evolved as the century moved on, is excluded.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,165
Las Vegas, NV USA
#7
Why does Britain not count as a democracy?
After the second and third Reform Bills, the UK did have a fair degree of democracy, certainly more than Germany where the PM reported directly to the Kaiser.

Women couldn't vote in the US and most black men in the South were effectively denied the vote. Many states still enforced property restrictions despite the 15th Amendment.
 
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Nov 2010
1,269
Bordeaux
#8
And the USA France and Germany have free 'modern sweeping franchise'?

In the USA during the 19th century ,apart from there being actual slaves for most of it, African American votes are restricted and there were strict property qualifications for white people.

Germany (not existing until 1870) may have had a wide electorate but the parliament had little power and the Kaiser and his military effectively ruled, democracy?

Sorry don't see why Britain's (far from perfect) democracy ,that evolved as the century moved on, is excluded.
I didn't say I agreed with the OP's premise, that was only a suggestion made from the OP's possible bias... and so I agree Britain should be included in the list and that it deserves to be, far more than Germany.
 
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May 2011
13,889
Navan, Ireland
#9
After the second and third Reform Bills, the UK did have a fair degree of democracy, certainly more than Germany where the PM reported directly to the Kaiser.

Women couldn't vote in the US and most black men in the South were effectively denied the vote. Many states still enforced property restrictions despite the 15th Amendment.
I seem to remember that (it varied greatly by state) that on independence 'democratic USA' had a franchise little bigger than the Britain.

That would figure if you viewed the American Revolution as a reaction against the Crown rather than British society.