The dynamics of democratic recession Economics, Polarisation and Autocratisation
There is a third wave of autocratisation, as it is a new phenomenon there are relatively few explanations and many new avenues for research. We review the literature on democratic recession and find that while there is much attention for the role of polarisation, none have sought to understand when autocratisation occurs. We argue that when confronted with worsening economic circumstances, an incumbent will have to resort to alternative measures, in this case autocratisation. Seeking to be re-elected and enact their preferred policies, the incumbent will polarise in an attempt divide the electorate and prevent mobilisation against their autocratic policies. We highlight the plausibility of this theoretical mechanism in an illustrative case study of democratic recession in India between 2014 and 2019. We further provide preliminary evidence that indicates that the mechanism is potentially valid, although further research is warranted.
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