How democracy is destabilised

How democracy is destabilised

With global politics becoming more unpredictable – highlighted by the UK’s vote for Brexit and the presidential elections of Donald Trump in the USA and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil – it is being used to examine the stability of democracies.

An international, interdisciplinary team including mathematicians, economists, psychologists, philosophers, sociologists and political scientists publishes a collective examination of the work in this field today in the European Journal of Physics.

Dr Karoline Wiesner, from the University of Bristol’s school of mathematics, is the lead author. She explains the premise of the team’s work: “There is little work on the circumstances under which instability of democracy might happen. So, we lack the theory to show us how a democracy destabilises to the point it is not describable as a democracy anymore.

“This reflects the way we in the west have lived in the past 50 to 60 years. But times have changed. Citizens of democracies are becoming less content with their institutions. They are increasingly willing to ditch institutions and norms that have been central to democracy. They are more attracted to alternative, even autocratic regime types.

“Furthermore, we recently saw elected officials in Hungary and Poland put pressure on critical media and undermine institutions like independent courts. This illustrates the need to rethink the idea of democracies as stable institutions.”

Source: Complex systems help explain how democracy is destabilised