Comparative Politics

How Democracy Backslides: Tracing the Pathway in Six Countries

Ali Riaz Illinois State University
MD Sohel Rana Illinois State University


The state of global democracy has been witnessing a consistent trend called ‘democratic backsliding’. Several studies have explained ‘why democracy backslides’, nevertheless, attention towards ‘how democracy backslides’ remains less explored. The current paper meets this gap and examines the processes of democratic backsliding in six countries, namely Bangladesh, Bolivia, Mali, Turkey, Ukraine, and Zambia. We make three interrelated arguments. First, we argue that there are specific milestones in the process of democratic backsliding which accentuates the processes and provides legitimate cover to the actions of the incumbent. Second, as opposed to Levitsky & Ziblatt (2018)’s three stage model of the backsliding – attacking referees, targeting opponents, and changing the rules of the game, we show that a pattern of changes in the constitution, in other words, changing the rules of the game, is the first step. Third, media manipulation is the second target in the backsliding processes.

Summary of changes from Version 1

Institutional affiliation of one of the authors have been corrected


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