Multilevel Democratic Decoupling: The Territorial Dimension of Backsliding and Contemporary Regime Change
Javier Pérez Sandoval
Kellogg Visiting Fellow
Regimes do not change consistently across territorial levels. We have made progress in understanding national backsliding and subnational regimes; but barring a few exceptions, these research strands have not engaged in a thorough dialogue. To bridge this gap, Pérez Sandoval contends that when democracy advances in one territorial level, but erodes in another, we observe multilevel democratic decoupling. Using global data from the Varieties of Democracy project, he examines the 1990-2022 period, showing that the proportion of decoupled cases jumped from 20% in the 1990s, to 42% in the first decade of the 21st century. Exploring Italy, South Africa, India, and the United States, he illustrates recent patterns of territorially (de)coupled regime change, and suggests courts may play an important role in enabling it. Given that regimes across territorial levels are moving in separate directions, looking exclusively at national-level change will be gradually less informative about citizens’ experiences on the ground.
Kellogg Visiting Fellow Javier Pérez Sandoval Is a departmental lecturer in Latin American Studies at the University of Oxford. He studies the theories as well as the quantitative and qualitative methods used to shed light on the changing regime dynamics of Latin America. He has particular expertise in the historical origins of subnational democracy across Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico...