Department of Political Science


The Decline of Democracy and Advance of Autocracy

07 December 2023, 6:15 pm–7:30 pm

Tarot cards showing justice on one side, and a king on the other

Part of the UCL Policy & Practice seminar series.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Eleanor Kingwell-Banham


LT2 Cruciform Building
Gower street
United Kingdom



In many parts of the world, democratic values and institutions are being eroded, while autocrats and ‘strongmen’ are gaining power in democratic countries, and consolidating it in autocratic ones. Our expert panel will dissect the causes and consequences of these alarming trends, examining case studies from multiple regions as well as cross-cutting themes such as the role of disinformation, populism, and polarisation. What can be done to protect against these forces? And what are the prospects for reversing the decline of democracy and the advance of autocracy? 


Meet the speakers

Professor Jennifer Gandhi is Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Jackson School of Global Affairs at Yale University. Her research interests are in comparative politics and political economy, with a focus on authoritarian regimes and transitions to and from democracy. Professor Gandhi’s work includes an award-winning Cambridge University book, Political Institutions under Dictatorship, as well as articles in leading political science journals, such as the American Journal of Political Science and the Journal of Politics. 

Professor Reza Hasmath is Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta. He has previously held faculty positions in management, sociology and political science at the Universities of Toronto, Melbourne and Oxford, and has worked for think-tanks, consultancies, development agencies, and NGOs in multiple countries. His award-winning, multidisciplinary research has included projects on state-society interactions in China, and multiculturalism in autocracies. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Civil Society. 

Gideon Rachman is chief foreign affairs commentator for the Financial Times, a position he has held since 2006. He joined the FT after a 15-year career at The Economist, which included spells as a foreign correspondent in Brussels, Washington and Bangkok. His third book, The Age of the Strongman: How the Cult of the Leader Threatens Democracy Around the World, was published by Vintage in 2022.

Chair: Dr Sherrill Stroschein. Reader in Politics in the UCL Department of Political Science, and is finishing a book on the entrenchment of party control across states in the Balkans. 

A close up of a video camera with a LED screen showing that it is focussed on a speaker. The speaker and crowd appear blurred in the background

This event will be recorded and the video will be uploaded to our YouTube channel.

You can subscribe to our YouTube channel to be alerted when the recording is uploaded.


There is step free access into the lecture theatre(s).
There are designated spaces for wheelchair users within the lecture theatre(s).
There is level access to the designated seating from an entrance.
There is space for an assistance dog.
There is a hearing assistance system for the lecture theatre(s).
There is not a visual fire alarm beacon in the lecture theatre(s).
More info can be found here.


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