On the “invisibility” of electoral autocracies

In this paper, colored as it is by my knowledge and experience of democratic backsliding in Poland, I reflect upon the rise of autocracies characterized by electoral pedigree, and consider some consequences of these developments. I focus in particular upon its relative invisibility, which is due, among other things, to the fact that autocratic changes proceed incrementally, that their truly invidious effects are triggered by mutual interactions between various discrete changes, that institutions are not formally dismantled but hollowed out of their original meanings, and that assaults upon various pillars of democracy