Democratic backsliding in South Asia

Is terrorism to blame?

Chirasree Mukherjee – NUPRI Working Paper 13 – novembro 2021

Abstract

The literature on the decline of democracy and the causes of democratic backsliding primarily emphasize domestic factors as causal variables for the worsening quality of democracy. However, analysis on the extent to which external factors influence democratic backsliding is largely neglected. My paper attempts to grapple with this lacuna, by looking into the effects of terrorism, as a causal variable of democratic backsliding. I hypothesize that increased casualties out of terrorism result in change in the quality of democracy subsequently leading to backsliding. The study of democratic backsliding has mainly concentrated on Europe and Latin America, and to some extent, on South-east Asia. This research delves deep into the South Asian region to understand the impact of terrorism on the quality and stability of democracies and hence, forms my case study. All seven states that this region is comprised of – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka along with all cases of terrorism, within the period 1970-2017 come within the purview of this research. South Asia features within the top five regions of the IPE Global Terrorism Database as the acute sufferer of terrorism, both domestic and international. Operationalizing terrorism in terms of the count of casualties that resulted from various acts of terror, I specifically hypothesize that increased terrorism result in change in the quality of democracy subsequently leading to backsliding.