Democracies around the world are under stress, their institutions and norms undermined by illiberal actors, and their vulnerabilities exploited by external forces bent on weakening democracy’s appeal. Prominent illustrations include Hungary and Poland’s illiberal turns, Turkey’s descent into authoritarianism, and foreign electoral interference in states across the transatlantic community. These democratic setbacks—both attention-grabbing and more subtle—have emerged in both transitioning and consolidated democracies. Across Europe, nationalist and populist parties have gained support among citizens who see their governments as unable to meet their economic and security needs nor adequately address concerns associated with migration and globalization. In the most difficult cases, illiberal governments are weakening the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the integrity of elections.
On November 5, the Governance Studies and Foreign Policy programs at Brookings hosted a release event for “The Democracy Playbook,” a new report by Brookings experts Norman Eisen, Torrey Taussig, and Alina Polyakova, and the Transatlantic Democracy Working Group’s Susan Corke. After a keynote speech by Senator Ben Cardin, the authors appeared on a panel to describe their findings, based upon an extensive review of social science and practitioner experience, and to discuss strategies that supporters of liberal democracy can implement to halt and reverse democratic backsliding and make democratic institutions work more effectively for citizens, with a particular focus on the European experience.
After the session, a Q&A session followed.