Democracy without Democrats
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democratic failure
constitutional design
democratic ethics


This paper examines a distinctive set of ethical and pragmatic dilemmas, which we label “democracy without democrats,” arising in the current moment of democratic backsliding’ This seemingly oxymoronic condition arises under the following circumstances. On the one hand, elected officials actors who in fact have a democratic mandate lack the necessary incentives or disposition to maintain democratic competition. On the other hand, nonelected actors, such as judges and bureaucrats, have both the incentives and the capabilities to take actions that preserve the possibility of democratic endurance. This paradoxical confluence leads to a number of problems of constitutional theory that we identify and discuss here, focusing in particular on the matter of how to remove anti-system chief executives.

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