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Photo: “European Parliament Strasbourg Hemicycle – Diliff“, by Diliff, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Hue modified from the original

Haggard, Stephan. “The Anatomy of Democratic Backsliding.” Journal of Democracy 32, no. 4 (October 2021): 27–41.


How do duly elected rulers weaken checks on executive power, curtail civil and political liberties, and undermine the integrity of the electoral process? Drawing on sixteen cases of backsliding from Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Africa as well as the United States, our theory of backsliding focuses on three causal mechanisms: the pernicious effects of polarization; rulers’ control of the legislature; and the incremental nature of abuses of power, which divide and disorient oppositions.

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.