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Concern for global democracy

Oxford University Press Blog: “A new report by the Democracy Project finds that a majority of Americans view democracy in the United States as weak and getting weaker. Even worse, nearly half of Americans express concerns that the United States is in “real danger of becoming a nondemocratic, authoritarian country.” Reports such as this one come at a time in which many political observers are sounding the alarm bell that we are amid an era of resurgent authoritarianism. Though it is a stretch to say that democracy in the United States will collapse any time soon, a number of developments there and elsewhere are indeed cause for concern for global democracy. The first is the growing attractiveness of populism among democratic audiences. In a number of well-established democracies, such as the United States and Hungary, we are seeing leaders who promote populist agendas gain power. The messages they advocate are similar: the country needs a strong leadership, elites and experts cannot be trusted, and established institutions are failing. The rising popularity of populism worldwide is troubling, however, because populist agendas are increasingly being used as a springboard for the dismantling of democracy, such as occurred in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez and Turkey under Reccep Tayyip Erdogan. In such places, populist leaders dismantle the foundations of democracy by putting loyalists in key positions of power (e.g. the judiciary), sidelining the media by censoring it or legislating against it, and muzzling civil society and political opponents. Importantly, their efforts to consolidate control are often difficult to push back against because they occur under the guise of “saving” the country…”

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