Democracy is in retreat. Although democratic improvements still occur around the globe, many citizens in both new and established democracies now turn to the authoritarian lure of populist parties that reject basic democratic principles such as minority rights and the equality of all people. Internationally, autocratic regimes gain legitimacy. Academia is still looking for ways to comprehensively explain these setbacks. Nor does the literature agree on how to explain improvements in democratisation. This lack of insight makes it difficult for policy makers who aim at supporting democracy from the outside to devise appropriate strategies.
To better understand dynamics of political transformation, we need to identify factors that make democracies endure, factors and that drive autocratisation. Only then can we fathom how democracy is best supported inter- and transnationally.
Our analyses focus on the design of political institutions and the role of norms and values in societies of the Global South. Regime changes, we argue, are better understood when acknowledging the interplay between informal and formal institutions and networks. With regard to making democracy promotion more effective, we analyse the contestation of norms, aid modalities, and how it affects equality and social cohesion.