Democracy and Its Vulnerabilities: Dynamics of Democratic Backsliding

52 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2019 Last revised: 5 Aug 2020

See all articles by Zhaotian Luo

Zhaotian Luo

University of Chicago, Department of Political Science

Adam Przeworski

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Date Written: November 24, 2019

Abstract

The puzzle entailed in erosion of democracy by backsliding is how a catastrophic situation can be gradually brought about by steps against which people who would be adversely affected do not react in time. We investigate conditions which render democracy impregnable to backsliding and conditions which make it vulnerable. Democracy is sustainable, free from the threat of backsliding, when opposing politicians are neither very attractive nor very unattractive to citizens. To sustain it, citizens must allow more appealing incumbents to gain some security in office. Backsliding occurs either under "populism," when citizens knowingly consent to erosion of democracy because they find the incumbent highly appealing, or under "polarization," when citizens oppose the incumbent regardless of the attractiveness of the challenger, so that the incumbent can remain in office only by backsliding.

Keywords: Democracy, Backsliding, Dynamic

Suggested Citation

Luo, Zhaotian and Przeworski, Adam, Democracy and Its Vulnerabilities: Dynamics of Democratic Backsliding (November 24, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3469373 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3469373

Zhaotian Luo (Contact Author)

University of Chicago, Department of Political Science ( email )

5825 S University Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Adam Przeworski

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States
(212) 998-3707 (Phone)
(212) 995-4184 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/politics/faculty/przeworski/przeworski_home.html

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