Five years ago, the contributors to the Journal of Democracy‘s twenty-fifth anniversary issue (January 2015) expressed varying views in responding to the question “Is Democracy in Decline?” In the Journal’s thirtieth anniversary issue (January 2020), there is greater consensus about the global condition of democracy. It is facing grave threats, both internal and external. But while the situation is grim, there are also rays of hope. The instinct for freedom remains powerful, as has been demonstrated by massive prodemocracy protests in a number of countries. Moreover, unlike five years ago, today democrats around the world have become aware of the magnitude of the challenges to democracy and the need to defend it.
The grim litany of problems besetting democracy is far from the whole story. For despite being in a ‘slump,’ democracy continues to show vivid signs of its underlying strength and its persisting appeal.