This research project compares regional patterns in democracy with international trends during the Covid-19 pandemic. Globally, democracy has been in a general decline for fifteen years, but the pandemic created a space for political opportunists to expand their power in remarkable ways. East African governments typify this trend, though several already had powerful, imperial presidencies. Blending descriptive statistics from the Varieties of Democracy data as well as anecdotal evidence to ground the quantitative empirics with country-specific events, this research informs contemporary studies of democracy. The study also relates to long-standing questions regarding both democratization studies and the oscillating relationships between powerful East African executive branches, the public, elite coalitions, and governments.  


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