Rise and Fall of Democracy (POLS 565)

2023 Fall
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Political Science(POLS)
Berk Esen besen@sabanciuniv.edu,
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Doctoral, Master
Interactive,Communicative,Case Study
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This course is designed to give the student an understanding of the democratic regime as well as the way in which it has come under attack in the contemporary period. It offers an introduction to the conflicting definitions of the term and addresses such issues as democracy as government and representation. The course reviews the phenomenal rise of electoral democracies after the Third Wave and the proliferation of 'democracy with adjectives' in the global south. Particular emphasis is be placed on those factors and mechanisms that have eroded democratic institutions and facilitated democratic backsliding and breakdown in different parts of the globe.



1. Develop and deepen the current and advanced knowledge in the field with original thought and/or research and come up with innovative definitions based on Master's degree qualifications 4

2. Conceive the interdisciplinary interaction which the field is related with ; come up with original solutions by using knowledge requiring proficiency on analysis, synthesis and assessment of new and complex ideas. 4

3. Evaluate and use new information within the field in a systematic approach. 5

4. Develop an innovative knowledge, method, design and/or practice or adapt an already known knowledge, method, design and/or practice to another field; research, conceive, design, adapt and implement an original subject. 4

5. Critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation of new and complex ideas. 4

6. Gain advanced level skills in the use of research methods in the field of study. 4

7. Contribute the progression in the field by producing an innovative idea, skill, design and/or practice or by adapting an already known idea, skill, design, and/or practice to a different field independently. 4

8. Broaden the borders of the knowledge in the field by producing or interpreting an original work or publishing at least one scientific paper in the field in national and/or international refereed journals. 4

9. Demonstrate leadership in contexts requiring innovative and interdisciplinary problem solving. 4

10. Develop new ideas and methods in the field by using high level mental processes such as creative and critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. 4

11. Investigate and improve social connections and their conducting norms and manage the actions to change them when necessary. 4

12. Defend original views when exchanging ideas in the field with professionals and communicate effectively by showing competence in the field. 4

13. Ability to communicate and discuss orally, in written and visually with peers by using a foreign language at least at a level of European Language Portfolio C1 General Level. 4

14. Contribute to the transition of the community to an information society and its sustainability process by introducing scientific, technological, social or cultural improvements. 4

15. Demonstrate functional interaction by using strategic decision making processes in solving problems encountered in the field. 4

16. Contribute to the solution finding process regarding social, scientific, cultural and ethical problems in the field and support the development of these values. 4

1. Develop the ability to use critical, analytical, and reflective thinking and reasoning 5

2. Reflect on social and ethical responsibilities in his/her professional life. 5

3. Gain experience and confidence in the dissemination of project/research outputs 5

4. Work responsibly and creatively as an individual or as a member or leader of a team and in multidisciplinary environments. 5

5. Communicate effectively by oral, written, graphical and technological means and have competency in English. 5

6. Independently reach and acquire information, and develop appreciation of the need for continuously learning and updating. 5

1. Develop a thorough knowledge of theories, concepts, and research methods in the field and apply them in research design and data analysis. 5

2. Assess the impact of the economic, social, and political environment from a global, national and regional level. 5

3. Know how to access written and visual, primary and secondary sources of information, interpret concepts and data from a variety of sources in developing disciplinary and interdisciplinary analyses. 5

1. Begin to grasp historical evolution and contemporary character of world politics. 5

1. Begin to grasp historical evolution and contemporary character of world politics. 5

1. Gain the skills to analyze, understand, evaluate, and make policies in key public areas. 4

2. Develop a policy area of specialization. 4

3. Gain work experience in one of the centers or forums affiliated with Sabancı University. 4

1. Gain the skills to analyze, understand, evaluate, and make policies in key public areas. 4

2. Develop a policy area of specialization. 4

3. Gain work experience in one of the centers or forums affiliated with Sabancı University. 4


  Percentage (%)
Assignment 15
Term-Paper 40
Case Study 15
Participation 30



Course Schedule and Readings

Week 1: What is Democracy? Concepts, Processes and Trends

Schumpeter, Joseph. (1947). Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. New York: Harper & Brothers. Chapter 22.
Dahl, Robert A. (1971). Polyarchy. New Haven, CT.: Yale University Press (Ch.1).
Schmitter, Philippe C., and Terry Lynn Karl. (1991). ?What Democracy Is? and Is Not,? Journal of Democracy 2 (3): 75-88.
Huntington, Samuel. (1991). The Third Wave, University of Oklahoma Press, 1991, 13-40.
Przeworski, Adam. (1991). Democracy and the Market: Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ch. 1.
Olson, Mancur. (1993). ?Dictatorship, Democracy, and Development,? American Political Science Review 87 (3): 567-576.
Sen, Amartya. (1999). ?Democracy as a Universal Value,? Journal of Democracy 10 (3): 3-17.

Week 2: Democratic Consolidation

O?Donnell, Guillermo. (1996). ?Illusions About Consolidation,? Journal of Democracy 7 (2): 34-51.
Barry, W. (1997). ?The Political Foundations of Democracy and the Rule of Law?. American Political Science Review, 91 (2: 245-63.
Schedler, A. (1998). ?What is democratic consolidation??. Journal of democracy, 9 (2): 91-107.
Svolik, M. (2008). ?Authoritarian reversals and democratic consolidation?. American Political Science Review, 153-168.
Acemoglu, Daron, and James A. Robinson. (2019). The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty. New York, NY: Penguin. TBA
Özbudun, E. (1996). ?Democratization in the Middle East: Turkey-How Far from Consolidation??. Journal of Democracy, 7 (3), 123-138.

Week 3: Democracy with Adjectives

O?Donnell, G. (1994). ?Delegative Democracy,? Journal of Democracy 5 (1): 55-69.
Collier, D., & Levitsky, S. (1997). ?Democracy with adjectives: Conceptual innovation in comparative research?. World politics, 49 (3), 430-451.
Diamond, Larry. (2002). ?Thinking about Hybrid Regimes.? Journal of Democracy 13 (2):21-35.
Carothers, T. (2002). ?The End of the Transition Paradigm,? Journal of Democracy 13 (1): 5-21.
Merkel, W. (2004). ?Embedded and defective democracies?. Democratization, 11(5), 33-58.
Taş, H. (2015). ?Turkey?from tutelary to delegative democracy?. Third World Quarterly, 36 (4), 776-791.

Week 4: Democratic Transitions: Structure vs Agency

O?Donnell, Guillermo, and Philippe C. Schmitter, (1986). ?Opening (and Undermining) Authoritarian Regimes,? pp. 15-36 in Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press).
Bellin, Eva. (2000). ?Contingent Democrats: Industrialists, Labor, and Democratization in Late-Developing Countries.? World Politics 52 (January): 175-205.
Carothers, T. (2007). How democracies emerge: The" sequencing" fallacy. Journal of democracy, 18(1), 12-27.
Bunce, Valierie J. and Sharon L. Wolchik (2010). ?Defeating dictators: Electoral change and stability in competitive authoritarian regimes?. World Politics 62 (1). 43?86.
Kendall--Taylor, A., & Frantz, E. (2014). ?How autocracies fall?. The Washington Quarterly, 37(1), 35-47.
Haggard, S., & Kaufman, R. R. (2016). Dictators and democrats: Masses, elites, and regime change. Princeton University Press. Ch. 1
Somer, M. (2016). ?Understanding Turkey?s democratic breakdown: Old vs. new and indigenous vs. global authoritarianism?. Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 16(4), 481-503.

Week 5: Democratic Transitions: Popular Movements/Protests

Kuran, Timur. (1991). ?Now Out of Never: The Element of Surprise in the East European Revolution of 1989?. World Politics, 44:7?48.
Wood, E. J. (2001). ?An insurgent path to democracy: Popular mobilization, economic interests, and regime transition in South Africa and El Salvador?. Comparative Political Studies, 34(8), 862-888.
Tucker, Joshua A. (2007). ?Enough! Electoral Fraud, Collective Action Problems, and Post-Communist Colored Revolutions.? Perspectives on Politics 5, no. 3 (September): 535-551.
Brancati, Dawn. (2014). ?Pocketbook Protests: Explaining the Emergence of Pro-Democracy Protests Worldwide.? Comparative Political Studies 47, no. 11: 1503-1530.
Rosenfeld, B. (2017).? Reevaluating the middle-class protest paradigm: A case-control study of democratic protest coalitions in Russia?. American Political Science Review, 111(4), 637-652.
Brancati, D., & Lucardi, A. (2019). ?Why democracy protests do not diffuse?. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 63(10), 2354-2389.
Yardimci-Geyikci, Sebnem (2014). ?Gezi Park protests in Turkey: A party politics view?. The Political Quarterly, 85(4), 445-453.

Week 6: Democratic Erosion/Backsliding

Bermeo, Nancy. (2016). ?On Democratic Backsliding,? Journal of Democracy 27(1): 5-19
Levitsky, Steven, and Daniel Ziblatt. (2018). How Democracies Die. New York: Crown. Chapter 1.
Waldner, David, and Ellen Lust (2018). ?Unwelcoming Change: Comping to Terms with Democratic Backsliding,? Annual Review of Political Science 21: 93-113.
Kaufman, R. R., & Haggard, S. (2019). Democratic decline in the United States: What can we learn from middle-income backsliding?. Perspectives on Politics, 17(2), 417-432.
Haggard, S., & Kaufman, R. (2021). The anatomy of democratic backsliding. Journal of Democracy, 32(4), 27-41.
Esen, B., & Gumuscu, S. (2016). Rising competitive authoritarianism in Turkey. Third World Quarterly, 37(9), 1581-1606.

Week 7: Democratic Breakdown and Authoritarian Regimes

Linz, J. J. (1990). The perils of presidentialism. Journal of democracy, 1 (1), 51-69.
Svolik, M. W. (2012). The politics of authoritarian rule. Cambridge University Press. pp 1-17, 22-32.
Slater, D., Smith, B., & Nair, G. (2014). Economic origins of democratic breakdown? The redistributive model and the postcolonial state. Perspectives on Politics, 353-374.
Geddes, B., Wright, J. G., Wright, J., & Frantz, E. (2018). How dictatorships work: Power, personalization, and collapse. Cambridge University Press. pp 25-43.
Weyland, K. (2020). Populism?s threat to democracy: Comparative lessons for the United States. Perspectives on Politics, 18(2), 389-406.
Cleary, M. R., & Öztürk, A. (2022). When does backsliding lead to breakdown? uncertainty and opposition strategies in democracies at risk. Perspectives on Politics, 20(1), 205-221.
Esen, B., & Gumuscu, S. (2021). Why did Turkish democracy collapse? A political economy account of AKP?s authoritarianism. Party Politics, 27(6), 1075-1091.

Week 8: Populism, demagoguery and post-truth

Mudde, C., & Kaltwasser, C. R. (2017). Populism: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press. Ch. 5.
Levitsky, Steven, and James Loxton. (2013). ?Populism and Competitive Authoritarianism in the Andes,? Democratization 20(1): 107-136.
Kaltwasser, C. R. (2014). The responses of populism to Dahl's democratic dilemmas. Political Studies, 62(3), 470-487.
Esen, Berk, and Şebnem Yardımcı-Geyikçi. (2019). ?An Alternative Account of the Populist Backlash in the United States: A Perspective from Turkey,? PS: Political Science & Politics 52 (3): 445-450.
Subramanian, S. (2017). ?Inside the Macedonian Fake-News Complex,? Wired.
DiResta, R. (2018). ?What We Now Know About Russian Disinformation.? New York Times.
Rodrik, D. (2019). What?s driving populism?. Project Syndicate, 9.
Pomerantsev, P. (2019). ?The Disinformation Age: A Revolution in Propaganda.? The Guardian. July 27, 2019.
Sandal, N. A. (2021). Religious populist parties, nationalisms, and strategies of competition: the case of the AK Party in Turkey. Religion, State & Society, 49 (3), 248-263.

Week 9: Polarization

LeBas, Adrienne. (2018). ?Can Polarization Be Positive? Conflict and Institutional Development in Africa.? American Behavioral Scientist 62(1): 59-74.
McCoy, Jennifer, Tahmina Rahman, and Murat Somer. (2018). ?Polarization and the Global Crisis of Democracy: Common Patterns, Dynamics and Pernicious Consequences for Democratic Polities,? American Behavioral Scientist 62 (1): 16-42.
Shoup, B. D. (2018). ?Ethnic polarization and the limits of democratic practice?. Democratization, 25 (8), 1419-1440.
Svolik, Milan W. (2019). ?Polarization Versus Democracy,? Journal of Democracy 30(3): 20-32.
Somer, M. (2019). ?Turkey: The slippery slope from reformist to revolutionary polarization and democratic breakdown?. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 681 (1): 42-61.

Week 10: Military coups, repression and autogolpes

Cameron, M. A. (1998). ?Self-Coups: Peru, Guatemala, and Russia?. Journal of Democracy, 9(1), 125-139.
Quinlivan, J. T. (1999). ?Coup-proofing: Its practice and consequences in the Middle East?. International Security, 24(2), 131-165.
Thyne, C. L., Powell, J. M. (2016). ?Coup d?état or coup d?autocracy? How coups impact democratization, 1950?2008?. Foreign Policy Analysis, 12(2), 192?213.
Chacha, M., & Powell, J. (2017). ?Economic interdependence and post-coup democratization?. Democratization, 24(5), 819-838.
Croissant, A., Kuehn, D., & Eschenauer, T. (2018). ?Mass Protests and the Military?. Journal of Democracy, 29 (3), 141-155.
Geddes, B., Wright, J. G., Wright, J., & Frantz, E. (2018). How dictatorships work: Power, personalization, and collapse. Cambridge University Press. ch. 3
Esen, B. (2021). Praetorian army in action: a critical assessment of civil?military relations in Turkey. Armed Forces & Society, 47(1), 201-222.

Week 11: Authoritarian Durability

Gandhi, Jennifer, and Przeworski, Adam. (2007). ?Authoritarian Institutions and the Survival of Autocrats.? Comparative Political Studies 40, no. 11: 1279?301.
Greene, K. F. (2010). ?The political economy of authoritarian single-party dominance?. Comparative political studies, 43 (7), 807-834.
Svolik, M. W. (2012). The politics of authoritarian rule. Cambridge University Press. pp. 88-100.
Tansey, Oisin, Kevin Koehler, and Alexander Schmotz. (2017). ?Ties to the Rest: Autocratic Linkages and Regime Survival,? Comparative Political Studies 50 (9): 1221-1254.
Hellmeier, S., & Weidmann, N. B. (2020). Pulling the Strings? The Strategic Use of Pro-Government Mobilization in Authoritarian Regimes. Comparative Political Studies, 53 (1), 71-108
Levitsky, S., & Way, L. (2022). Revolution and Dictatorship: The Violent Origins of Durable Authoritarianism. Princeton University Press. Ch. 1
Bellin, Eva. (2012). ?Reconsidering the Robustness of Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Lessons from the Arab Spring.? Comparative Politics 44 (2): 127- 149.

Week 12: Opposition Under Hybrid Regimes

Magaloni, B. (2010). The game of electoral fraud and the ousting of authoritarian rule. American journal of political science, 54 (3), 751-765.
Gamboa, L. (2017). ?Opposition at the Margins: Strategies against the Erosion of Democracy?. In Colombia and Venezuela. Comparative Politics, 49(4), 457-477.
Gandhi, J., & Ong, E. (2019). ?Committed or conditional democrats? Opposition dynamics in electoral autocracies?. American Journal of Political Science, 63 (4), 948-963.
Ong, E. (2021). ?What are we voting for? Opposition alliance joint campaigns in electoral autocracies?. Party Politics, 13540688211032367.
Somer, M., McCoy, J. L., & Luke, R. E. (2021). ?Pernicious polarization, autocratization and opposition strategies?. Democratization, 28(5), 929-948.
Kavasoglu, B. (2022). ?Opposition party organizational features, ideological orientations, and elite co-optation in electoral autocracies?. Democratization, 29(4), 634-654.
Selçuk, O., & Hekimci, D. (2020). ?The rise of the democracy?authoritarianism cleavage and opposition coordination in Turkey (2014?2019)?. Democratization, 27(8), 1496-1514.

Week 13: Turkish Regime in Comparative Perspective

Yardımcı-Geyikçi, Ş., & Yavuzyilmaz, H. (2020). ?Party (de) institutionalization in times of political uncertainty: The case of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey?. Party Politics, 28 (1), 71-84.
Kubicek, P. (2020). ?Faulty assumptions about democratization in Turkey?. Middle East Critique, 29 (3), 245-257.
Arslanalp, M., & Deniz Erkmen, T. (2020). ?Mobile emergency rule in Turkey: legal repression of protests during authoritarian transformation?. Democratization, 1-23.
Demiralp, S., & Balta, E. (2021). ?Defeating Populists: The Case of 2019 Istanbul Elections?. South European Society and Politics, 26(1): 1-26.
Kahvecioğlu, A., & Patan, S. (2022). ?Embattled Ballots, Quiet Streets: Competitive Authoritarianism and Dampening Anti-Government Protests in Turkey?. South European Society and Politics, 1-27.
Tepe, S. (2022). ?Populist party?s challenge to democracy: Institutional capture, performance and religion?. Party Politics, 28 (4): 651-665.
Güven, A. B. (2022). ?Towards a new political economy of Turkish Capitalism: three worlds?. Turkish Studies, 1-20.

Week 14: Future of Democracy?

Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan Way. (2015). ?The Myth of Democratic Recession,? Journal of Democracy 26 (1): 45?58.
Lührmann, A., & Lindberg, S. I. (2019). A third wave of autocratization is here: what is new about it?. Democratization, 26 (7): 1095-1113.
Landman, T., & Splendore, L. D. G. (2020). ?Pandemic democracy: elections and COVID-19?. Journal of Risk Research, 23 (7-8): 1060-1066.
Diamond, L. (2020). ?Breaking Out of the Democratic Slump?. Journal of Democracy, 31 (1): 36-50.
Weyland, Kurt (2022). ?How populism dies: political weaknesses of personalistic plebiscitarian leadership?. Political Science Quarterly, 137 (1): 9-42.
Esen, Berk. (2022). ?The Opposition Alliance in Turkey: A Viable Alternative to Erdoğan?? SWP Comment. https://www.swp-berlin.org/publikation/the-opposition-alliance-in-turkey-a-viable-alternative-to-erdogan
Esen, Berk. (2022). ?Post-2023 Election Scenarios in Turkey?. SWP Comment. Forthcoming.