Much of the postwar economic agenda has been one of deepening economic ties, integrating states into the world economy, liberalizing and eliminating barriers to commerce, facilitating the flows of goods, services, people and ideas across international borders. The post war period has also been the era of unprecedented democratization, especially after the end of the cold war. Globalization and democratization have appeared to coincide.
Many of these democracies are young, and unconsolidated. Even mature democracies have recently been shown to be susceptible to backsliding: state capture, the politicizing of the judiciary, patronage and corruption signal potential autocratic reversion. The revival of populism has been striking and distrust in government, legislators and democratic institutions is on the rise. Turnout in elections remains flat or falling among younger voters. This apparent weakening of electoral legitimacy coincides with a period of restructuring in global economic relations. The failure of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the success of the Leave campaign for Brexit, the stalling of the global trade negotiations, the withdrawal of states from investment treaties and even an apparent flattening in the share of trade in world GDP, coupled with the emergence of a rhetoric of economic nationalism all augur a period in which globalization appears to be in retreat.
What then are the prospects for democratic consolidation, or the risks of autocratic reversal in the coming period of retreating globalization? What are the domestic political pressures driving both a decline in support for globalization and distrust in democratic institutions? What are the roles for inequality, identity, and ideology in this process?
European integration collapsed in the inter-war period as did the number of democracies (and the share of the world’s population living under democracy); the recent period faces a number of risks associated with declining economic integration once again – is democracy itself at risk?
Link to paper here.