PODCAST | Pluralism by Default: Weak Autocrats and the Rise of Competitive Politics in Ukraine and the rest of the former Soviet Union

Why do some countries that lack preconditions for democracy nevertheless see the rise of democratic political competition? Professor Lucan Way from University of Toronto proposes that pluralism in Ukraine and other “new democracies” is often grounded less in democratic leadership, an emerging civil society or “people power”, and more in the failure of authoritarianism.

Co-hosted by the Sydney Democracy Network and the Ukraine Democracy Initiative

Pluralism by Default explores the sources of political contestation in Ukraine and the rest of the former Soviet Union and beyond. Lucan Way proposes that pluralism in Ukraine and other “new democracies” is often grounded less in democratic leadership, an emerging civil society or “people power”, and more in the failure of authoritarianism.

Dynamic competition including electoral turnovers or independent media frequently emerges because autocrats lack the state capacity or organization to steal elections, impose censorship, or repress opposition. In fact, the same institutional failures that facilitate political competition may also thwart the development of stable democracy.

About the speaker

Lucan Way received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and is Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. Way’s research focuses on democratization and authoritarianism in the former Soviet Union and the developing world.

His most recent book, Pluralism by Default: Weak Autocrats and the Rise of Competitive Politics (Johns Hopkins, 2015), examines the sources political competition in the former Soviet Union. His book, Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War (with Steven Levitsky), was published in 2010 by Cambridge University Press.

Way’s book and articles on competitive authoritarianism have been cited thousands of times and helped stimulate new and wide-ranging research into the dynamics of hybrid democratic-authoritarian

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