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Democracy and Autocracy Newsletter

Democracy and Autocracy is the official newsletter of the American Political Science Association’s Democracy and Autocracy section (formerly known as the Comparative Democratization section). Previously published at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden under the name The Annals of Comparative Democratization, the newsletter moves to U-M under executive editors Dan Slater (WCED director, political science) and Rob Mickey (political science). 

Current and past issues of the newsletter can be found on the APSA Democracy and Autocracy section website.

The September 2021 issue of Democracy and Autocracy brings together authors from the forthcoming volume in the WCED Book Series, Struggles for Political Change in the Arab World: Regimes, Oppositions, and External Actors, to explore "The International Aftermath of the Arab Spring." Contributors include Hesham Sallam (Stanford), Amr Hamzawy (Stanford), Toby Matthiesen (Stanford, Ca' Foscari University), Ayça Alemdaroğlu (Stanford), Gönül Tol (Middle East Institute), and Lisa Blaydes (Stanford). Dana El Kurd and Benjamin Schuetze also exchange reviews of their recent books, Polarized and Demobilized: Legacies of Authoritarianism in Palestine (El Kurd, 2020) and Promoting Democracy, Reinforcing Authoritarianism: US and European Policy in Jordan (Schuetze, 2019). Former WCED Postdoctoral Fellow Jean Lachapelle (University of Oslo) serves as guest editor.  

The April 2021 issue of Democracy and Autocracy features a symposium dedicated to the theme “Constraining Presidents” with scholars specializing in both American and comparative politics. Contributors include José Antonio Cheibub (Texas A&M University), Kenneth Lowande (University of Michigan), and Julia Azari (Marquette University). Anne Meng (University of Virginia) and Ken Opalo (Georgetown University) add to the discussion through an exchange of reviews of their recent books on political institutions in authoritarian contexts, Constraining Dictatorship: From Personalized Rule to Institutionalized Regimes (Meng, 2020) and Legislative Development in Africa: Politics and Postcolonial Legacies (Opalo, 2018). Rachel Beatty Riedl (Cornell University) then provides insightful commentary on the Meng-Opalo exchange. Allen Hicken (University of Michigan) serves as guest editor.

Most of this issue’s contributors participated in a WCED virtual roundtable focused on this topic on November 10, 2020. Video is available on YouTube.

The December 2020 issue of Democracy and Autocracy examines “Democratic Survival in the Muslim World” with cases from Mali (Jaimie Bleck, Marc-André Boisvert, Boukary Sangare), Malaysia (Lily Zubaidah Rahim), and Turkey (Şebnem Yardımcı-Geyikçi). Elizabeth Nugent (Yale University) and Avital Livny (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) add to the discussion through an engaging exchange of reviews of their recent books, After Repression: How Polarization Derails Democratic Transition (Nugent, 2020) and Trust and the Islamic Advantage: Religious-Based Movements in Turkey and the Muslim World (Livny, 2020). Pauline Jones (University of Michigan) and Hanisah Binte Abdullah Sani (National University of Singapore Overseas Postdoctoral Fellow) serve as guest editors and develop a new framework on how to assess democratic survival and resilience in the Muslim world.

Several newsletter authors participated in a WCED virtual roundtable dedicated to this topic on September 22, 2020. Video is available on YouTube.

WCED's second issue of Democracy and Autocracy, released in June 2020, addresses the topic, "Economic Shocks and Authoritarian Stability." As guest editor and WCED Postdoctoral Fellow Natalia Forrat writes, this issue "is an invitation to think about the possible effects of the current economic crisis on authoritarian regimes. The contributions are based on Economic Shocks and Authoritarian Stability, edited by Victor Shih and just published by the University of Michigan Press as part of the WCED Book Series. Its authors explore cases as diverse as Russia, Iran, Jordan, GDR, Bulgaria, and Cuba to consider the factors that conditioned the impact of past economic crises on authoritarian regimes and may affect the autocrats’ response to the current crisis."

WCED’s first issue, Volume 18(1), is dedicated to the question, “Is Democracy Promotion Dead?” It features articles written by three teams of scholars who authored reports for USAID’s “Theories of Democratic Change Research Initiative” from 2013-2018. The issue also includes a book author exchange, showcasing exciting new research by Jessica Trisko Darden (American University) and Inken von Borzyskowski (University College London). WCED Postdoctoral Fellow Matthew Cebul (Ph.D. Yale, 2019) serves as guest editor for Volume 18. 

The newsletter authors gathered at U-M on February 4, 2020 for a public roundtable discussion. Video is available on YouTube