Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy
21 October 2020

How viable is Western liberal democracy when transplanted across the world?

This question is explored in the second episode of our podcast series “Democracy in Question?” released on 22 October.

In this episode of Democracy in Question? Shalini Randeria asks if the ideals of liberal democracy – free and fair elections, separation of powers, rule of law and respect for human rights – may be exported easily from the West to other parts of the world? This is a question especially salient when some of these very ideals are being undermined in several countries including the United States (more about this question in the first episode)? Further, Prof. Randeria asks her guests, Laurence Whitehead and Yanina Welp, if Western models of democracy ought to be transplanted to other regions of the world at all? The conversation considers the failings of modernization theory, and to what extent it was simply mistaken in assuming that there can be a unilinear, unidirectional path to ever greater freedom with the successful transplantation of western style, liberal democratic institutions everywhere. This episode features questions concerning democracy’s relationship with populism and capitalism, as well as a discussion of democratic innovations from Latin America that may be of interest to the Western world.

The podcast series Democracy in Question? is hosted by Shalini Randeria, Director of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, and Rector of the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna.

Download the podcast's transcript HERE.

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Episode 2 features Laurence Whitehead, an Official Fellow in politics at Nuffield College, University of Oxford, and Yanina Welp, research fellow at the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy. Yanina and Laurence recently edited a book together titled, The Politics of Recall Elections, that analyses the variety of processes and purposes of recall, by comparing the practices and outcomes of removing elected officials before the end of their term.


This podcast series is co-produced by the Graduate Institute’s Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy and the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) Vienna, in cooperation with the Excellence Chair, University of Bremen (Research Group: Soft Authoritarianism).

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