The ebb of the first wave lasted from 1922 until 1942, during which the number of democracies in the world dropped to a mere 12.
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First, international efforts by states and activists helped politicise issues such as human rights and democratisation at the international level.
Huntington believes that the beginning of the third wave corresponds to the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, which helped secure commitments for human rights and democratic governance from Eastern European countries.
At its peak, the first wave saw 29 democracies in the world.
This continued until 1922, when Benito Mussolini rose to power in Italy.
Scholars have noted that the appearance of "waves" of democracy largely disappears when women's suffrage is taken into account; moreover, some countries change their positions quite dramatically: Switzerland, which is typically included as part of the first wave, did not grant women the right to vote until 1971.