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The Top 10 Most-Read Journal of Democracy Essays of 2022

No story dominated the world’s attention this year more than Putin’s war on Ukraine—from January, when the invasion still loomed, to today, as faltering Russian forces continue to strike Ukraine. Nor did any development have such far-reaching consequences for democracy. Putin’s aggression galvanized and reunited a liberal-democratic West and made Volodymyr Zelensky a household name.

The Journal has covered the war in Ukraine extensively. We have also analyzed democracy’s fortunes across the globe, from Afghanistan to the Philippines, from Hungary to Tunisia. Here are the 10 most-read Journal of Democracy essays of 2022:

1. The Collapse of Afghanistan (January)
The Afghan republic’s destruction was sewn into its founding. The international community’s missteps are more responsible for its failure than the country’s supposedly endemic corruption.
By Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili

2. What Putin Fears Most (April)
Forget his excuses. Russia’s autocrat doesn’t worry about NATO. What terrifies him is the prospect of a flourishing Ukrainian democracy.
By Robert Person and Michael McFaul

3. How Viktor Orbán Wins (July)
The case of Hungary shows how autocrats can rig elections legally, using legislative majorities to change the law and neutralize the opposition at every turn.
By Kim Lane Scheppele

4. How Zelensky Has Changed Ukraine (July)
Volodymyr Zelensky is far more than a brave wartime leader. He began changing the tenor and direction of Ukrainian politics long before the people made him their president.
By Jessica Pisano

5. Democracy’s Arc: From Resurgent to Imperiled (January)
Whether democracy regains its footing will depend on how democratic leaders and citizens respond to emboldened authoritarians and the fissures within their own societies.
By Larry Diamond

6. The Rebirth of the Liberal World Order (April)
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has done something for the world’s democrats they could seemingly not do for themselves—given them a renewed unity, purpose, and resolve.
By Lucan Ahmad Way

7. Coup in Tunisia: Is Democracy Lost? (January)
President Kais Saied’s power grab has crushed Tunisian democracy, returning the country to the old playbook of Arab dictators past and present.
By Moncef Marzouki

8. The Politics of Enemies (October)
Democracy’s meaning has always been contested. Letting that struggle become a battle between existential foes risks upending the whole democratic project.
By Michael Ignatieff

9. Debate: Why Democracies Survive
Democracies are under stress, but they are not about to buckle. The erosion of norms and other woes do not spell democratic collapse. With incredibly few exceptions, affluent democracies will endure, no matter the schemes of would-be autocrats.
By Jason Brownlee and Kenny Miao

10. Digital Subversion in the Age (April)
International spying and digital subversion used to be the province of governments. Now anyone who has the cash can order hi-tech snooping and surveillance.
By Ronald J. Deibert