How Democracies Die

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Reviews of How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt
(NY: Crown, paperback. 312 pp.

"[A] brilliant diagnosis of the most important issue facing our world: Can democracy survive?” – E.J. Dionne, Jr.

“Two years ago, a book like this could not have been written: two leading political scientists who are experts in the breakdown of democracy in other parts of the world using that knowledge to inform Americans of the dangers their democracy faces today” — Francis Fukuyama.

“The current political climate across Western democracies, in particular the United States, has been one marked by increasing ideological polarization. Given this phenomenon, How Democracies Die is an important work of admonition against a particular tragedy of democracy. As the authors eloquently write, the “tragic paradox of the electoral route to authoritarianism is that democracy’s assassins use the very institutions of democracy— gradually, subtly, and even legally—to kill it” (p. 8).” How Democracies Die provides a message that is simple, yet not simplistic, and timely, but (hopefully) not too late.” – Rosolino A. Candela, Brown University “

...[T]his is not a fatalistic book. It looks to history to provide a guide for defending democratic norms when they are under threat, and finds that it is possible to fight back. Mainstream parties can ally against authoritarianism, as happened for example in Belgium in the 1930s, when incipient fascism was defeated by the willingness of the rightwing Catholic party to join ranks with the liberals. Since the second world war the main parties of the left and right in Germany have shown a readiness to work with each other rather than allow extremism to gain a foothold in government (they may be about to do it again). In Chile, Pinochet was eventually defeated in 1989 by an alliance of Christian Democrats and Socialists, jointly committed to the preservation of democracy. The survival of democracy requires politicians willing to put long-term stability ahead of short-term gain and ready to recognise that what goes around comes around.” – David Runciman in The Guardian, 1/24/2018