Master of International Affairs   Master of Public Policy  

Democracy promotion and demotion

'Autocratization Turns Viral', an influential report proclaimed in 2021. This marked the end of a widespread illusion that arose after 1989, that the fourth wave of democratisation would continue until it was embraced by the entire world. Not only have China and North Korea managed to survive but Turkey and Russia, which had once seemed poised to consolidate their democracies, slipped back to autocratic regimes. The Arab Spring revolutions also produced more civil wars than successful transitions. However, in many countries around the world, neither economic recession nor the pandemics thereafter managed to destroy democracy, even if many of its aspects – political communication and representation – are undergoing the most important changes in generations.

This class covers literature on the birth and the demise of democratic regimes – in other words, on the continuous transformation of political regimes – and asks what factors lead to the appearance and disappearance of democracies. Furthermore, we ask to what extent such transformations are determined by domestic versus international factors and to what extent human agency (in the form of democracy promotion, international aid or trade) can influence the political transformation of a regime. Students will learn how to diagnose, measure and explain democracy and the quality of democracy. What theories of change exist that explain the birth and the breakdown of democratic regimes? What can we learn from previous democratisations and breakdowns of democratic regimes? How well have the US and the EU democracy-promotion machines functioned for the past decade and how should they adjust to the new context? Both group and individual work will be assigned, covering all continents and a variety of cases, offering ample choice both for those who are interested in quantitative analysis as well as for those who are passionate about history and qualitative methods.

This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.