Describing recent trends, Plattner stated that democratisation has stalled over the past 15 years, noting that the most promising cases of democratic transition have already occurred and those that remain are incredibly complex. He argued that democracy now appears less attractive due to a number of factors, including the 2008 economic crisis, institutional crises in the EU and US and foreign policies that are seemingly rhetorical and out of touch. At the same time, an authoritarian core is posing a further challenge to the Western democratic model, asserting greater geopolitical influence over their respective regions, and expanding their soft power through state controlled international news and media outlets.

For many countries in transition, the priority is a political model which can provide greater economic growth and development outcomes. Democracies need to show that they can provide this better than authoritarian models in the long term. Economic reform is a long and difficult process, yet it is often the lack of economic benefits that will lead to democratic backsliding, as seen in some Arab Spring countries. As such, it is important to have leaders in place who are willing to implement difficult reform decisions from the outset to gain citizen buy-in and position the country for long-term economic growth and development.