- Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Andrea Kendall-TaylorDirector of the Transatlantic Security Program, Center for a New American Security
- Natasha LindstaedtNatasha LindstaedtProfessor of Government, University of Essex
- and Erica FrantzErica FrantzAssistant Professor, Michigan State University
This introductory chapter provides an overview of the threats to democracy. Although the number of democracies in the world remains at or near historic highs, there are a number of important trends accelerating beneath the surface that threaten to reverse democracy's progress. In particular, democracies are facing mounting challenges from within; autocracies are evolving and adapting their survival strategies in ways that make them a more formidable challenge to democracy; and international developments are creating conditions conducive to the spread of autocracy. Although these developments make it easy to grow pessimistic about democracy's future, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that democratic decline is not inevitable. Authoritarian regimes are evolving and adapting, but it is unlikely in the long term that these political systems will have the flexibility to change to the extent that today's challenges will require.