Two Harvard professors explain the dangerous world we face today
Democracies can die with a coup d'état - or they can die slowly. This happens most deceptively when in piecemeal fashion, with the election of an authoritarian leader, the abuse of governmental power and the complete repression of opposition. All three steps are being taken around the world - not least with the election of Donald Trump - and we must all understand how we can stop them.
In How Democracies Die, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt draw insightful lessons from across history - from the rule of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile to the quiet undermining of Turkey's constitutional system by President Recip Erdogan - to shine a light on regime breakdown across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Notably they point to the dangers of an authoritarian leader faced with a major crisis.
Based on years of research, they present a deep understanding of how and why democracies die; an alarming analysis of how democracy is being subverted today in the US and beyond; and a guide for maintaining and repairing a threatened democracy, for governments, political parties and individuals.
History doesn't repeat itself. But we can protect our democracy by learning its lessons, before it's too late.
Anyone who is concerned about the future of democracy should read this brisk, accessible book. Anyone who is not concerned should definitely read it. Daron Acemoglu, co-author of Why Nations Fail
Steven Levitsky is Professor of Government at Harvard University. His research and teaching focus on political parties, democracy and authoritarianism and weak and informal institutions in Latin America and across the developing world. He is the author of two books, Competitive Authoritarianism and Informal Institutions and Democracy.
Daniel Ziblatt, a Professor of Government at Harvard University, is a leading authority on contemporary Europe and democracy and authoritarianism in Europe from the 19th century to the present. He is the author of Structuring the State and Conservative Political Parties and the Birth of Modern Democracy in Europe, of which Francis Fukuyama said 'revolutionizes the literature on democratic transitions'.