Home > Research > Project information

Why do democracies collapse?

Transformation Research / Research field
Upheavals in the Interwar Period / Research focus 
PD Dr. habil. Steffen Kailitz / Coordination


Results of the project include the following: during the inter-war period all democracies survived that had established themselves and become wealthy before the ‘Great War’, like Britain and the United States. All very poor democracies along the periphery of Europe, such as Greece, Poland, Portugal and Spain, failed. Peacefully becoming democratic in the absence of the Great War would have given Austria and Germany good chances for consolidating their democracies. The economic decline in the wake of defeat in war and the terms of the peace agreement perceived as humiliating led to a serious loss of confidence in democracy (post-imperial syndrome). The project results have been and continue to be presented on both the national and international levels. In the context of the project, the smaller English-language monograph Why the Fascists Will not Take Over the Kremlin (for Now):A Comparison of Democracy’s Breakdown and Fascism’s Rise in Weimar Germany and Post-Soviet Russia co-authored by Andreas Umland, among other works, has appeared. Also based on the work in this project is the special issue of the journal Nationalities Papers entitled The 'Double Transformation'.New Perspectives on East Central European Nationalizing and Democratizing States between the Two World Wars, edited together with Heidi Hein-Kircher (Herder Institute in Marburg) and currently in press. Heidi Hein-Kircher is also participating in the current editorial work on the volume Der AufbruchzurDemokratie in Ostmitteleuropazwischen den Kriegen [The Emergence of Democracy in Eastern Central Europe between the Wars].