The Anatomy of Democratic Backsliding

Issue Date October 2021
Volume 32
Issue 4
Page Numbers 27–41
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How do duly elected rulers weaken checks on executive power, curtail civil and political liberties, and undermine the integrity of the electoral process? Drawing on sixteen cases of backsliding from Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa as well as the United States, our theory of backsliding focuses on three causal mechanisms: the pernicious effects of polarization; rulers’ control of the legislature; and the incremental nature of abuses of power, which divide and disorient oppositions.

About the Authors

Stephan Haggard

Stephan Haggard is the Lawrence and Sallye Krause Professor of Korea-Pacific Studies and director of the Korea-Pacific Program in the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California, San Diego. 

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Robert Kaufman

Robert Kaufman is distinguished professor of political science at Rutgers University.

View all work by Robert Kaufman