Democracy on Autopilot

Become a Patron! Democracy on Autopilot Lately my mind regularly drifts to a quote from the new book from Dan Slater and Joseph Wong. They write, "Democracy doesn’t 'just happen' as a matter of course with a society’s modernization; rather, real people need to make risky decisions that have vital implications for democracy’s fate." It... Continue Reading →

Democratic Leadership

Become a Patron! Democratic Leadership The cruel irony of democracy is it allows people to select undemocratic political leaders. Far too often citizens assume any elected leader in a democracy is ipso facto democratic. They assume the political system defines the leader. Of course, this belief has some truth. Some dictators do redefine their political... Continue Reading →

Mainstream Political Parties are in Hard Places

Become a Patron! Mainstream Political Parties are in Hard Place Throughout the series on democracy in hard places, institutional weakness became a recurring theme. Unfortunately, established democracies have seen their own institutions gradually weaken or decay in recent years. Nowhere is this more evident than the state of political parties. Voters punish mainstream political parties... Continue Reading →

Is Every Democracy in a Hard Place?

Become a Patron! Is Every Democracy in a Hard Place? Democracies around the world face many threats. Some are new while others are old. Sometimes the threats reflect changing circumstances. However, others involve problems that have compounded over generations. Economic inequality, severe polarization, and poor governance threaten American democracy. Europe faces ongoing issues surrounding economic... Continue Reading →

Corruption is Transnational

Become a Patron! Central Asia and Transnational Corruption A theme of the podcast has become the blurred line between national and international politics. Ronald Deibert explained how autocrats use technology to repress opponents even after they flee their country. A few years ago Christopher Walker coined the term sharp power. Walker writes sharp power "involves... Continue Reading →

A Test for Democracy

Become a Patron! A Test for Democracy Everyday Ukraine serves as a testament to the power of human will. The Ukrainian people continue to meet their Russian aggressors in the battlefield. Lately a lot of the focus for those who follow the conflict closely is on the advances of Russian forces. But the Russian advance... Continue Reading →

How Democratic is Ukraine?

Become a Patron! How Democratic is Ukraine? The media has framed the war between Russia and Ukraine as a conflict between democracy and autocracy. However, some skeptics question whether Ukraine is truly a democracy. Some criticisms simply refer to Ukraine as corrupt without much reflection. But others look to measures of democracy from Freedom House... Continue Reading →

Lucan Way on Ukraine. Democracy in Hard Places.

Lucan Way is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. He coauthored (along with Steven Levitsky) Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War. He has a new book also coauthored with Steven Levitsky due this fall called Revolution and Dictatorship: The Violent Origins of Durable Authoritarianism. He is the author of... Continue Reading →

Democratization and Democratic Backsliding

Become a Patron! Democratization and Democratic Backsliding The recent episode with Michael Coppedge touched on an interesting idea. The causes for democratization might be distinct from the causes for its decline. Coppedge notes the idea is not new. Dankwart Rustow made this argument in an influential paper called, "Transitions to Democracy: Toward a Dynamic Model."... Continue Reading →

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