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ECPR Futures Lab 2020

Erosion of Democracy – An Old-New Phenomenon

Comparative Perspective
Marianne Kneuer
University of Hildesheim
Marianne Kneuer
University of Hildesheim

If we consult democracy measures like Freedom House prima vista the distribution between democracies, autocracies and ‘grey zone regimes’ did not change significantly. A second look however reveals a problematic dynamic within the different regime types (independently how we might classify them). And this dynamic rather does not point to a direction towards but away from democracy. The phenomenon with which we are confronted is neither democratic breakdown nor a simple loss of democratic quality but a third concept which I call ‘erosion of democracy’. We observe this erosion in several regions as the deliberate and incremental deconstruction of existing (and more or less stable) democratic structures, processes and principles. This deconstruction is executed by actors with the declared intention to transform the existing liberal democratic to an alternative system. This kind of actor-based and intentional erosion of democracy needs conceptualization. This paper proposes a new conceptual approach for an old phenomenon, namely the "slow death" of democracies.
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