Thomas Franck's “emerging” right to democracy seems to be entering turbulent times, as the current global democratic recession has undermined the optimism of the 1990s. The greatest paradox of the current populist wave is that democracy is being subverted by leaders promising more, not less, democracy—but it is a democracy of a different kind. Populists embrace the “form” of democracy and claim to speak for the people themselves. At the same time, however, by undermining its liberal constitutional foundations, they erode the substance of democracy, and gradually transform it into various forms of illiberal and authoritarian regimes.
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