Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Hilary Appel

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The international political order is at a crossroads with divergent paths. Liberal democracy is once again threatened on the international stage. What's more troubling is that the most stable and influential democracies, the United States, those in Europe and India, seem to be vulnerable to the autocratic wave sweeping through the world. This thesis completes a critical analysis to understand the root causes of the recent disruption to democracy the world has observed. Focusing on three established, diverse, and populous democracies, this thesis investigates the economic conditions at play that made each nation vulnerable to populism. Neoliberal economic policies implemented in the United States, India, and the United Kingdom in the 1980s contributed to prosperity and growth in each nation. The economic conditions of neoliberalism caused each of these nations to be susceptible to the rise of populist leaders with autocratic tendencies. Integration in the global economy and financial deregulation in each nation had consequential side effects that left a significant part of the population economically disenfranchised. This thesis argues that this group’s economic anger fueled the populist movement. Populism is incompatible with the liberal democracies of each nation. To affirm the strength of these democracies, the international economic order must re-examine the post-war compromise of embedded liberalism. To prevent future democratic backsliding, and to diminish the effects of the current threat to democracy, economic policies must be put into place that reflect the social values of society.