Spring 2020

Democratic Backsliding

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-215


Javier Corrales (Section 01)


According to many scholars, the world is experiencing a democratic recession. Since the 2000s, many established democracies are undergoing erosion in their democratic institutions, even transitioning to autocracies. Also, fewer autocracies and semi-authoritarian regimes are transitioning to democracy. During the Cold War, most threats to existing democracies came from the military or non-state actors, such as insurgents or extremist movements. In this era of democratic backsliding, most serious threats to democratic rule stem from the very winners of democracy—incumbent presidents who came to office by winning elections. This course tries to understand the extent of this democratic erosion worldwide—its dimensions, causes, and possible ways to address it. Readings will draw from theoretical, comparative, historical, and case-based works. Students will also work on independent research projects and class presentations.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Corrales.

If Overenrolled: Senior and Political Science majors will be given preference.


Attention to Research, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020