David Smith at The Guardian:
“There was a momentary sigh of relief but the level of anxiety is actually strangely higher now than in 2016 in the sense that it’s not just about one person but there are broader structural issues,” said Daniel Ziblatt, co-author of How Democracies Die. “The weird emails that I get are more ominous now than they were in 2016: there seems to be a much deeper level of misinformation and conspiracy theories.”
In How Democracies Die, Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky argue that democracies often come under threat not from invading armies or violent revolutions but at the ballot box: death by a thousand cuts. “People use elections to get into power and then, once in power, assault democratic institutions,” Ziblatt said.
“That’s Viktor Orbán [in Hungary], that’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [in Turkey], that’s Hugo Chávez [in Venezuela] and what’s distinctive about that is that it often begins incrementally. So people continue to go about their lives, continue to vote, parliament continues to meet and so you think, ‘Is there really a threat?’ But the power concentrates so it becomes harder and harder to unseat an incumbent.”
He added: “We shouldn’t overlook that fact that we had a change in government in January. What that suggests is our electoral institutions do work better than they do in Hungary. The opposition in the United States is more well-organised and financed than the Hungarian opposition or the Turkish opposition, so we shouldn’t overstate that. But on the other hand, the tendencies are very similar.”