Subject: Democratic decline

January 2019, Volume 30, Issue 1

India Under Modi: Threats to Pluralism

In the world’s largest democracy, liberalism is in retreat, as evidenced by a pattern of assaults on minorities, press freedom, and the independence of key cultural and intellectual institutions.

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October 2018, Volume 29, Issue 4

Democracy’s “Near Misses”

What factors help a democracy to survive a crisis? A study of cases in which democracy suffered a steep decline, yet ultimately recovered and endured, offers new insights. In moments of crisis, unelected and nonmajoritarian actors can play a pivotal role.

October 2018, Volume 29, Issue 4

Liberal Democracy’s Crisis of Confidence

Public-opinion data from Pew Research Center show that global support for representative democracy is widespread, but often thin. Amid rising economic anxiety, cultural unease, and political frustration, citizens are increasingly open to alternative systems of government.

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April 2018, Volume 29, Issue 2

The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy

Across the West, economic, demographic, and cultural shifts have spurred the rise of populists who embrace majoritarianism and popular sovereignty while showing little commitment to constitutionalism and individual liberty. 

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April 2018, Volume 29, Issue 2

The Undemocratic Dilemma

The ability of liberal democracies around the world to translate popular views into public policy has been declining. Yet there is no easy way to overcome this trend without weakening the capacity of governments to solve some of the most pressing challenges of the coming decades.

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

Liberal Democracy’s Fading Allure

Is liberal democracy the only suitable type of government for a strong, modern society? A quarter-century ago, the answer seemed to be a clear yes. But today the picture is much cloudier.

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October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

Eroding Norms and Democratic Deconsolidation

“Democratic deconsolidation” on the level of attitudes and beliefs is real, and behind it lies a disturbing rise in tolerance for antisocial behavior, especially among the young. 

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April 2017, Volume 28, Issue 2

The 2016 U.S. Election: The Populist Moment

Rising populism in the U.S. and beyond is calling into question the liberal-democratic bargain that has defined the postwar era. What led to Americans’ present revolt against elites, and what are its implications?

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January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

The Signs of Deconsolidation

Political scientists have long assumed that “democratic consolidation” is a one-way street, but survey evidence of declining support for democracy from across the established democracies suggests that deconsolidation is a genuine danger.

January 2016, Volume 27, Issue 1

On Democratic Backsliding

Old-fashioned military coups and blatant election-day fraud are becoming mercifully rarer these days, but other, subtler forms of democratic regression are a growing problem that demands more attention.

January 2016, Volume 27, Issue 1

The Authoritarian Threat: Weaknesses of Autocracy Promotion

While “autocracy promotion” presents a real danger, its influence so far has been limited. Because authoritarian regimes are concerned first with furthering their own interests, their interventions often have contradictory effects, sometimes even inadvertently fostering greater pluralism.

The Signs of Democratic Deconsolidation

In many parts of the world, democracy seems to be under threat. Populism is on the rise, as is public dissatisfaction with such key features of liberal democracy as political parties, representative institutions, and minority rights. Even in the long-established democratic regimes of Western Europe and the United States, attachment to democracy is weakening, particularly…

January 10, 2017

Democracy in Decline?

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.