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Heller, P. (2023). Parties, Civil Society and Democratic Deepening: Comparing India, Brazil and South Africa. Studies in Indian Politics11(1), 10-26.


Despite being among the most successful democracies in the Global South, India, Brazil and South Africa have all recently experienced democratic crises. I argue that these democratic crises result from the formation of social coalitions that have been willing to subvert democratic institutions and practices in order to preserve or restore their social and economic privileges. In structural terms, these reactions are tied to the unresolved problem of the incorporation of popular classes. This problem has in turn been mediated by the balance between political and civil society. In India and South Africa that balance has favoured the dominance of mass-based nationalist parties that have thwarted democratic deepening. In Brazil, a more balanced relationship between civil society and political society has favoured the partial incorporation of the popular classes.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.