A look at how democracies die

Professor Daniel Ziblatt of Harvard University remains cautiously optimistic. "I think democracy is not dead - it's still pretty robust. But in America we are definitely facing a kind of crisis at the moment," he says. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Professor Daniel Ziblatt of Harvard University remains cautiously optimistic. "I think democracy is not dead - it's still pretty robust. But in America we are definitely facing a kind of crisis at the moment," he says. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Democracies go out not with a bang, such as in a violent coup, but with a whimper: by the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions such as the judiciary and the media, and the gradual erosion of longstanding political norms. This is the central theme of The New York Times' best-selling book, How Democracies Die, by Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky. Ziblatt, a professor of government at Harvard University, was in Singapore on Oct 9 to deliver a Yale-NUS Lecture on Global Affairs on How Democracies Die: Lessons For The Future. He spoke to The Sunday Times on Trump, Hong Kong and the role of the media.

"If the accusations are correct, this would be the most serious violation of democratic norms that (United States President Donald) Trump has engaged in," says Professor Daniel Ziblatt.

He is referring to allegations that the President had, earlier this year, tried to get Ukraine to influence the 2020 US presidential election in Mr Trump's favour.

Please or to continue reading the full article. Learn more about ST PREMIUM.

Enjoy unlimited access to ST's best work

  • Exclusive stories and features on multiple devices
  • In-depth analyses and opinion pieces
  • ePaper and award-winning multimedia content
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 20, 2019, with the headline 'A look at how democracies die'. Print Edition | Subscribe