1st Edition

Resilience of Democracy Responses to Illiberal and Authoritarian Challenges

Edited By Anna Lührmann, Wolfgang Merkel Copyright 2023

    Illiberalism and authoritarianism have become major threats to democracy across the world. In response to this development, research on the causes and processes of democratic declines has blossomed. Much less scholarly attention has been devoted to the issue of democratic resilience. Why are some democracies more resilient than others to the current trend of autocratization? What role do institutions, actors and structural factors play in this regard? What options do democratic actors have to address illiberal and authoritarian challenges? This book addresses all these questions.

    The present introduction sets the stage by developing a new concept of democratic resilience as the ability of a democratic system, its institutions, political actors, and citizens to prevent or react to external and internal challenges, stresses, and assaults. The book posits three potential reactions of democratic regimes: to withstand without changes, to adapt through internal changes, and to recover without losing the democratic character of its regime and its constitutive core institutions, organizations, and processes. The more democracies are resilient on all four levels of the political system (political community, institutions, actors, citizens) the less vulnerable they turn out to be in the present and future.

    This edited volume will be of great value to students, academics, and researchers interested in politics, political regimes and theories, democracy and democratization, autocracy and autocratization, polarization, social democracy, and comparative government. The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Democratization.

    Introduction—Resilience of democracies: responses to illiberal and authoritarian challenges

    Wolfgang Merkel and Anna Lührmann

    1. How democracies prevail: democratic resilience as a two-stage process

    Vanessa A. Boese, Amanda B. Edgell, Sebastian Hellmeier, Seraphine F. Maerz and Staffan I. Lindberg

    2. What halts democratic erosion? The changing role of accountability

    Melis G. Laebens and Anna Lührmann

    3. Pernicious polarization, autocratization and opposition strategies

    Murat Somer, Jennifer L. McCoy and Russell E. Luke

    4. Negative partisanship towards the populist radical right and democratic resilience in Western Europe

    Carlos Meléndez and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser

    5. The supply and demand model of civic education: evidence from a field experiment in the Democratic Republic of Congo

    Steven E. Finkel and Junghyun Lim

    6. Democratic Horizons: what value change reveals about the future of democracy

    Christian Welzel

    7. Disrupting the autocratization sequence: towards democratic resilience

    Anna Lührmann


    Anna Lührmann has been Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and since 2021 serves as a Member of the German Bundestag and Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office.

    Wolfgang Merkel is Professor Emeritus at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, and Director Emeritus at WZB Berlin Social Science Center. He serves as Senior Scholar at the Democracy Institute at Central University in Budapest. His research focuses on Transformation of political regimes, (defective) democracy and democratization, political parties, and social democracy in power. He co-edited The Oxford Handbook of Political, Social, and Economic Transformation (2019).