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The Rise of Personalist Leaders in Democracies

Personal Projects

The rise of strongman leaders has become a defining trend in contemporary politics. Long confined to the realm of autocracies, strongmen have now come to dominate democracies too. In a variety of domains – ranging from media reporting to political campaigns – politics has become more personal, with elected leaders taking on outsized influence relative to their political parties or the institutions that surround them.

Yet, despite the uptick, the political consequences of the new personalist era are less understood, particularly in terms of what it means for democracy.

A new video explainer for CNAS explores why personalist leaders are becoming more prevalent and what it portends for democracy. Critically, it emphasizes that the rise of personalism helps explain the deterioration in the quality of democracy we observe today.

87th Street Creative was brought onto this project to do all the animated segments. We illustrated and animated every cutaway segment to help engage viewers and create visual metaphors for these complex political topics.

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