With talk of democracy in crisis plentiful, especially in Europe, a smart assessment of how well democracies have fared during past crises is badly needed. This is what David Runciman offers – with decidedly mixed results. Runciman is a good writer and a brave pioneer. Little has been published on the subject and (as I realised when attempting something similar in The Life and Death of Democracy) it’s no easy task to compare large numbers of cases from different time periods and come up with a convincing picture of why democracies succeed or fail.
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