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Democratic Stability: A Long View

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-75
Number of pages17
Published11 May 2020

King's Authors


What are the sources of democratic stability? The evidence from three modern waves suggests that stability rests on economic growth, strong states, and liberal institutions. But can we secure democratic stability beyond liberalism? This question is relevant to those developing countries that have little hope, and perhaps little interest in liberal democracy. But it is also increasingly relevant to those developed nations where the achievements of the twentieth-century liberal order are being eroded. This article takes a fresh look at democratic stability by reviewing the evidence from the last two and a half millennia. Particular attention is devoted to the case of ancient Athens, which highlights the importance of alignment between shared norms and appropriately designed institutions. Athens¤rsquo¤ case suggests that goods that we usually associate with modern liberal democracy do not necessarily rely on a given set of values and do not have a unique institutional manifestation.

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