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 →

Institutional Weakness in Hard Places

Become a Patron! Institutional Weakness I learned about institutional weakness for the first time from a book called The Politics of Institutional Weakness in Latin America. Initially, I thought it was just another name for state capacity. But Mala Htun and Francesca Jensenius point out, "Weak institutions are not just a matter of weak state... Continue Reading →

Are Traditional Afghan Institutions Democratic?

Become a Patron! Non-Western Democracy? “If we see seeking consent as a basic ingredient of democracy, then we can say that democracy itself occurs naturally among humans, even if it is far from inevitable," writes David Stasavage in The Decline and Rise of Democracy. He makes a simple point with profound implications. It raises the... Continue Reading →

Zoltan Barany on the Ineffectiveness of the Gulf Militaries

Zoltan Barany is the Frank C. Erwin, Jr. Centennial Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Armies of Arabia: Military Politics and Effectiveness in the Gulf.    The last time, and luckily this hasn't really happened since 1990, there was minimal resistance from the Kuwaiti and the... Continue Reading →

Daniel Brinks on the Politics of Institutional Weakness

Daniel Brinks joins the podcast to discuss his new book The Politics of Institutional Weakness in Latin America. He is the coeditor along with Steven Levitsky and María Victoria Murillo. Dan is a professor of Government and of Law at the University of Texas at Austin and a Senior Researcher & Global Scholar of the Centre... Continue Reading →

Institutional Weakness as a Threat to Democracy

  What is Institutional Weakness? Over the past few years political science has woken up to the importance of state capacity in the construction of stable governments. Unfortunately, scholars have not paid the same level of attention to the strength of institutions. It’s easy to take for granted that improvements in state capacity will naturally... Continue Reading →

Identity Formation in Political Theory

What is Identity? In recent years politics has become a contestation between different forms of identity rather than interests. Identity has an almost ideological connotation. It is easy to become lost in emotions and hyperbole without any awareness of its actual role in political theory. Indeed, the earliest political philosophers did not mention identity at... Continue Reading →

Norms in Democracies, Autocracies, and Institutions

Norms and Institutions The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) became law in 1996. It refused to recognize same-sex marriages at the federal level and allowed states to ignore marriage contracts between same-sex couples from other states. The law was never repealed, but was effectively overturned after the Supreme Court Decision Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015.... Continue Reading →

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