Democracy has increasingly come under pressure as democratic norms are being eroded. This article explores why democratic processes are at risk in Europe and the United States and what might replace them. It reflects the thinking of the Study Group on Democracy convened under the auspices of the International Association for Intelligence Education in 2022. Its deliberations identified a set of underlying key drivers, documented how they manifested, and speculated on what new forms of governance might replace democratic rule. Recent trends cited include the corruption of norms, the disruptive influence of social media, the growing diversity of society, the shift from community-based problem-solving to reliance on identity politics, the emergence of existential threats, and the need for strong leadership. The group concludes that prospects for sustaining democratic institutions can best be understood by viewing future trends along two perspectives: the complexity of society and modes of decision-making. 


Randolph H. Pherson

Randolph H. Pherson is Co-Founder and Managing Director, Pherson LLC. Mr. Pherson teaches advanced analytic techniques and critical thinking skills and has authored twelve books on analytic tradecraft. He was a career CIA intelligence analyst and manager, last serving as National Intelligence Officer for Latin America. 

Avner Barnea

Avner Barnea is a Research Fellow at the National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa. His research focuses on counterintelligence, and he teaches a course on Counterintelligence in Democratic Societies. 

Alexandru Fotescu

Alexandru Fotescu is a Research Associate at Helmut Schmidt University of the German Armed Forces, focusing on democratic and societal resilience, cognitive warfare, and hybrid threats.  

Andi-Gabriel Grosaru

Andi-Gabriel Grosaru is a Member of the Chamber of Deputies, Parliament of Romania. Mr. Grosaru serves on the Committee on Environment and Ecological Balance and the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men. 

Alexa O'Brien

Alexa O'Brien is an analyst and writer focusing on intelligence issues. Ms. O'Brien published articles in the International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, WIRED, VICE News, Guardian (U.K.), and The Daily Beast. 


Monica Robbins

Monica Robbins is a behavioral scientist. She teaches and researches the effects of disinformation in democratic societies. She is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University.

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No. 12 Threats to Democracy: Can It Be Sustained, and What Might Replace It?