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Middle East Focus is a weekly podcast featuring talk and analysis on U.S. foreign policy, contemporary political and social issues in the Middle East, and the arts and culture of region. It is produced by the Middle East Institute, a non-partisan think tank in Washington, D.C. For more information visit

Mar 26, 2024

About the series: This is a critical year for the future of democracy. Half the world’s population will go to the polls in 2024, at a time when citizens in America and across the globe are losing faith in democratic institutions. We often view the rollback of democracy and threats to the liberal international order as separate problems, but in reality they are closely interlinked. Through a new limited podcast series, MEI’s Gonul Tol seeks to examine the interplay between democracy’s domestic and international foes as well as how to counter them.  

In this episode: The world’s oldest democracy is in trouble. According to a study by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution, 75% of Americans believe that “the future of American democracy is at risk in the 2024 presidential election.” We often debate why democracies die because we assume that authoritarian power is the exception and democracy is the norm. But history says otherwise. 

Francis Fukuyama and Paul Salem join Gonul Tol to answer the question: Why has democracy flourished in certain countries and regions and not in others?