The End of the Backsliding Paradigm

Issue Date January 2021
Volume 32
Issue 1
Page Numbers 66-80
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Debates about democratic decline are now dominated by the notion that many democracies might be undergoing a process described as democratic backsliding. While the concept can play its part, the emergence of a backsliding paradigm risks reproducing, in reverse, the intellectual constraints of the transition paradigm of the 1990s, famously critiqued by Thomas Carothers. The complex, halting trajectories of troubled democracies today may be hidden behind a one-size-fits-all paradigm. Drawing lessons from East-Central Europe, we propose a broader focus that also encompasses intermediate patterns, often more faithful to realities on the ground.

About the Authors

Licia Cianetti

Licia Cianetti is a research fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London.

View all work by Licia Cianetti

Seán Hanley

Seán Hanley is associate professor in comparative Central and East European politics at University College London. He is coeditor (with James Dawson and Licia Cianetti) of Rethinking “Democratic Backsliding” in Central and Eastern Europe (2019).

View all work by Seán Hanley