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.

Mass Protests and the Military

Article
July 2018

When nonviolent mass protests occur under authoritarian regimes, the military plays a key role in determining the outcome: the hardening of the dictatorship, a new authoritarian regime, or a transition to democracy.

Modernization and Authoritarianism

Article
July 2018

Embracing a new model of capitalist authoritarianism, a number of nondemocratic regimes have made startling gains in state capacity, posing a new challenge to the appeal and advance of liberal democracy.

What Is "Sharp Power"?

Article
July 2018

Today’s authoritarians are using “sharp power” to project their influence internationally, with the objective of limiting free expression, spreading confusion, and distorting the political environment within democracies.

The Case for Democratic Persistence

Article
January 2018

A review of Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom by Condoleezza Rice.

Reevaluating Runoffs in Latin America

Article
January 2018

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. 

Fighting Terrorism: The Democracy Advantage

Article
January 2018

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. 

Alfred C. Stepan (1936–2017)

Article
January 2018

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 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.

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