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The democratic threat to democracy

Kemal Derviş in the Brookings Institution considers how autocrats may use democratic narratives regarding elections to justify their rule, while simultaneously delegitimising other democratic principles such as checks and balances and the separation of powers. There is a significant difference between non-democracies in which open, contestable elections do not exist, and those in which opposition parties do exist and may participate, however unequally. The key distinction between these two systems is the possibility for a power transfer after an electoral loss, in other words, the ruler's power is not seen as absolute. Given this dynamic, rulers of non-democracies that run unequal and unfair elections may claim to legitimately represent the common interests of the people. However, this narrative is more effective in more homogeneous countries-- in heterogeneous places, leaders often need to rely on "othering" certain segments of the population, often certain ethnic or religious groups. Derviş considers the implications of this dynamic for Indian democracy.

Read the full piece here at the Brookings Institution.