Democracy in Decline?

Book

For almost a decade, Freedom House’s annual survey has highlighted a decline in democracy in most regions of the globe. Some analysts say this shows that the world has entered a "democratic recession." Others dispute that interpretation, emphasizing democracy’s success in maintaining the huge gains it made during the last quarter of the twentieth century.

The Rise of Referendums: Demystifying Direct Democracy

Article
July 2017

Plebiscites have grown less common in recent decades in authoritarian and semi-authoritarian countries, even as the use of referendums in democracies has expanded. Despite their many shortcomings, referendums are, on balance, a mechanism for strengthening democracy.

The Pipe Dream of Undemocratic Liberalism

Article
July 2017

A look at liberal democracy’s complex historical evolution shows that elite fantasies of liberalism without democracy are ill-founded. Authoritarian legacies and democratic deficits lie at the core of trends that threaten liberal rights.

The Rise of Referendums: Elite Strategy or Populist Weapon?

Article
July 2017

Political elites once held referendums to fend off challenges to European integration. More recently, Euroskeptic parties have employed referendums to batter down the walls of elite consensus. But the spread of referendums threatens to undermine the legitimacy of representative democracy.

The End of the Postnational Illusion

Article
April 2017

With the advance of modernization, nationalism was supposed to fade away. Yet everywhere we look, even in advanced democracies, nationalism’s influence seems larger than ever. What did we get wrong?

What’s in a Name?

Article
April 2017

A review of What Is Populism? by Jan-Werner Müller.

The Modernization Trap

Article
April 2017

Populist nationalism is emerging as the main competitor to liberal democracy. But despite its current resurgence, in the long run, like other illiberal paths to modernity, it is likely to prove a dead end.

When Dictators Die

Article
October 2016

What political consequences can we expect when aging dictators die while in power? A fifth of the world’s autocracies are facing such a possibility, but the evidence shows that this may not augur well for democracy.

Transition in China? More Likely Than You Think

Article
October 2016

Evidence from social science and history suggests that China is entering a “transition zone” that will threaten its capacity to maintain both authoritarian rule and high levels of economic growth.

Particularism’s Empire

Article
September 2016

A review of The Quest for Good Governance: How Societies Develop Control of Corruption by Alina Mungiu-Pippidi.

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