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Britain’s Reichstag Fire moment

Weimar warns us about what happens when politicians give up on their own parliaments—as one of our most distinguished historians argues in this exclusive essay

By Richard J Evans   October 2019

Springtime for Weimar: Eduard Thony’s 1921 depiction of German decadence. Photo: © Granger/Shutterstock

Democracy is in trouble. The optimism that swept the world in the wake of communism’s collapse has vanished. Last year, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual World Democracy Index downgraded 89 countries, three times more than were upgraded. From Victor Orbán in Hungary to Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines and Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, to Vladimir Putin in Russia to Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, strongmen are clamping down on civil freedoms and human rights.

In the United…

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