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Cover Comparative Politics

25. From Supporting Democracy to Supporting Autocracy  

Peter Burnell

This chapter examines the controversies surrounding democracy support and its significance for comparative politics. It first compares definitions of democracy support and provides an overview of the basic vocabulary of democracy support, focusing on concepts such as democracy assistance and political conditionality. It then considers whether democracy support is now fit for purpose in a world where China and Russia continue to expand their international presence. It also discusses democracy support strategies and challenges facing democracy support, before concluding with a comparison and assessment of the rise of autocracy support. It suggests that democracy support has yet to devise adequate strategies to counter international autocracy support.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

3. Democratic and Undemocratic States  

Richard Rose

This chapter discusses the distinction between democratic and undemocratic states, noting that it is not only about whether there are elections: it is about whether or not it there is the rule of law. When both conditions are met, elections are free and fair and the government is accountable to the electorate. When laws can be bent or broken, unfair elections represent the will of governors more than that of the governed. The chapter first defines democratic states and outlines the characteristics of a democratic state before assessing the state of states today. It then considers three kinds of undemocratic states, namely: constitutional oligarchy, plebiscitarian autocracy, and unaccountable autocracy. It also examines how democratization has more often come about by trial and error rather than through gradual evolution and concludes by analysing the dynamics of democratic and undemocratic states.

Chapter

Cover Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes

1. Introduction  

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.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

21. Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe  

Christian W. Haerpfer and Kseniya Kizilova

This chapter examines the democratic revolutions that occurred in post-communist Europe since 1989. It first considers the beginning of the decline of communism and the failed attempts to reform communist one-party states from 1970 to 1988 as stage one of democratization. It then discusses the end of communist regimes as the second stage of democratization—between 1989 and 1991. It also looks at stage three of the democratization process, which focuses on the creation of new democracies. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the main drivers of successful democratization in post-communist Europe.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

22. Post-Soviet Eurasia  

Christian W. Haerpfer and Kseniya Kizilova

This chapter examines the democratic revolutions that occurred in post-Soviet Eurasia since 1989. It first considers the beginning of the decline of communism and the failed attempts to reform communist one-party states from 1970 to 1988 as stage one of democratization. It then discusses the end of communist regimes as the second stage of democratization—between 1989 and 1991. It also looks at stage three of the democratization process, which focuses on the creation of new democracies. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the main drivers of successful democratization in post-Soviet Eurasia.

Chapter

Cover Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes

14. Changing Patterns of Democratic Backsliding and Breakdown  

This chapter discusses the changing patterns of democratic backsliding and breakdown. Since the end of the Cold War, coups no longer present the greatest threat to democracy. Instead, there has been a rise in what can be referred to as ‘authoritarianizations’, or the slow dismantling of democratic norms and practices by democratically-elected leaders. The chapter particularly focuses on identifying and describing the steps that contemporary populist parties and leaders are using to dismantle democracy. It then provides an in-depth look at two prominent cases of authoritarianization: Russia and Turkey. Finally, the chapter looks at three key implications of the changing patterns in democratic breakdown. Staying abreast of changes in how democracies fall apart is fundamental to developing strategies to engage and counter autocracy's resurgence.

Chapter

Cover Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes

15. Conclusion: The Future of Democracy  

This concluding chapter outlines a number of factors that will potentially shape the future trajectory of democracy. It is impossible to forecast with any certainty democracy's future trajectory. The state of global democracy will be determined by a number of complex, dynamic, and inter-related factors. Based on current trends and future projections about the state of the global economy, levels of instability and conflict, technological change, and China's development, it appears that the risks of a widespread authoritarian resurgence have grown. Given these prospects, it is important to consider the implications of a rise in the number of autocracies worldwide. How would a widespread authoritarian resurgence affect today's global order? Policymakers, analysts, and academics widely agree that the norms, values, laws, and institutions that have undergirded the international system and governed relationships between nations are being stretched and strained. Widespread democratic decline would also accelerate changes in today's global order.

Chapter

Cover Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes

6. The Durability of Autocracy  

This chapter identifies sources of authoritarian durability. To maintain a firm grip on power, authoritarian regimes must maintain some support among three primary constituencies: the elite, the opposition, and the broader public. After discussing the relationship of these groups to regime durability, the chapter outlines the two primary strategies that autocracies use to maintain control—repression and co-optation—and the benefits and risks of each. Repression is defined as a form of socio-political control used by authorities against those within their territorial jurisdiction to deter specific activities and beliefs perceived as threatening to political order. Dictatorships have also learned to use political institutions—namely elections, political parties, and legislatures—to co-opt their opponents. The chapter then highlights other factors that research has shown to enhance regime durability, including regime type, state capacity, a country's access to natural resource wealth, and whether the regime was born out of a revolutionary struggle.

Chapter

Cover Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes

3. Defining Autocracy  

This chapter examines authoritarianism, providing a framework for understanding authoritarian regimes. Although all autocracies share a disregard for competitive elections and pluralism, the structural differences between them are vast. The chapter begins by discussing totalitarian regimes. Scholars developed theories of totalitarianism to take account of the new type of dictatorship that emerged in Germany under Hitler and the Soviet Union under Stalin. This research represents some of the earliest efforts to disaggregate autocracy. Political science research subsequently built on these early efforts, and scholars developed a number of ways to distinguish between different types of authoritarian systems. The chapter then presents a categorical framework for understanding differences across autocracies based on whether political power and decision-making reside with a single individual (personalist dictatorship), a party (single party dictatorship), the military (military regimes), or a royal family (monarchic dictatorship). Some dictatorships combine elements of more than one of these categories.

Chapter

Cover Democratization

26. Conclusion: The Future of Democratization  

Christian Welzel, Ronald Inglehart, Patrick Bernhagen, and Christian W. Haerpfer

This chapter summarizes the main insights from the book and sets out the main challenges lying ahead for democracy. It identifies varieties of autocracy and the role of external threats and group hostilities before assessing the possibilities of spreading democracy to new regions, consolidating and improving new democracies, and deepening old democracies.