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Democracy in Decline?

, 144 pages

3 line drawings

July 2015



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Democracy in Decline?


For almost a decade, Freedom House’s annual survey has highlighted a decline in democracy in most regions of the globe. While some analysts draw upon this evidence to argue that the world has entered a "democratic recession," others dispute that interpretation, emphasizing instead democracy’s success in maintaining the huge gains it made during the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Discussion of this question has moved beyond disputes about how many countries should be classified as democratic to embrace a host of wider concerns about the health of democracy: the poor economic and political performance of advanced democracies, the new self-confidence and assertiveness of a number of leading authoritarian countries, and a geopolitical weakening of democracies relative to these resurgent authoritarians.

In Democracy in Decline?, eight of the world’s leading public intellectuals and scholars of democracy—Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Philippe C. Schmitter, Steven Levitsky, Lucan Way, Thomas Carothers, and editors Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner—explore these concerns and offer competing viewpoints about the state of democracy today. This short collection of essays is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the latest thinking on one of the most critical questions of our era.

Larry Diamond is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, where he directs the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. Marc F. Plattner is the vice president for research and studies at the National Endowment for Democracy. Plattner and Diamond are founding coeditors of the Journal of Democracy and co-chairs of the Research Council of the International Forum for Democratic Studies.

"The authors share the understanding that some more recent events—the rise of the Islamic state in the Middle East, China's muscleflexing in the South China Sea, and Russia's annexation of Crimea—are elements in a bigger picture that suggests the rules-based international order built by democratic powers should no longer be taken for granted."

"In their illuminating collection, Diamond and Plattner have assembled leading experts who offer mostly grim assessments of the situation."

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