Democracy’s Surprising Resilience

Issue Date October 2023
Volume 34
Issue 4
Page Numbers 5–20
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Against widespread perceptions, the authors argue that democracy has proven remarkably resilient in the twenty-first century. Fears of a “reverse wave” or a global “authoritarian resurgence” have yet to be borne out. The vast majority of “third wave” democracies—those that adopted democratic institutions between 1975 and 2000—have long outlived the favorable global conditions that enabled their creation. The authors attribute the resilience of third-wave democracies after the demise of the liberal West’s post–Cold War hegemony to economic development and urbanization, and also to the difficulty of consolidating and sustaining an emergent authoritarian regime under competitive political conditions.

About the Authors

Steven Levitsky

Steven Levitsky is professor of government at Harvard University and co-chair of the Journal of Democracy Editorial Board.

View all work by Steven Levitsky

Lucan A. Way

Lucan Way is Distinguished Professor of Democracy at the University of Toronto, co-director of the Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, and co-chair of the Journal of Democracy Editorial Board.

View all work by Lucan A. Way