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Politics of Democratic Decline


Credits: 4 ECTS

First semester

Elective Courses




Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Donald Trump in the USA, Shri Modi in India, Georgia Meloni in Italy, Victor Orbán in Hungary, and Jarosław Kaczynski in Poland represent a recent wave of far-right populism that raises questions about the existing theories of democratic consolidation. Empirical evidence from various democracy indexes, such as V-DEM or Freedom House, suggests that we may already be experiencing a period of democratic decline. However, despite this evidence, a comprehensive academic understanding of this phenomenon is still lacking.

In this course, we will explore the politics of democratic decline from a comparative perspective. Our first focus will be on understanding the concepts and current discussions surrounding liberal democracy, illiberalism, democratic backsliding, and populism. We will delve into the intricacies of these concepts to gain a deeper insight into the challenges they pose to democratic systems. Subsequently, we will examine some of the potential causal factors contributing to democratic decline, such as polarization, inequality, and non-democracy promoters. In the final section of the course, we will concentrate on the most relevant case studies, including the USA, India, and Turkey, with special attention given to the EU's democratic backsliders: Poland, Hungary, and far-right parties within the EU. By closely examining these cases, we aim to gain practical insights into the complex dynamics at play in various contexts and their potential implications for global democratic governance.

The course will culminate with a foresight exercise and a simulation game, providing an interactive opportunity for students to apply the knowledge they have acquired throughout the course. These exercises will enable participants to understand the complexities of decision-making in the face of democratic challenges and make well-informed choices to safeguard democratic values and institutions.


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