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.
Despite worries that terror groups can turn open societies’ very openness against them, the numbers reveal that liberal democracies enjoy significant advantages in resisting the threat of terrorism.
A review of Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom by Condoleezza Rice.
The worldwide popularity of runoff rules for presidential elections has grown strikingly in recent decades. In Latin America, contrary to scholarly expectations, this shift has had important benefits for democracy.
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.
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.
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.
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?
A review of What Is Populism? by Jan-Werner Müller.