Despite their dominance and control over police, courts, state institutions, media, and civil society, authoritarian governments face multifaceted internal and external contestation over their right to rule and the boundaries of autocratic control. Analysis of this opposition is wanting in the literature on democratic backsliding. Societal groups, institutions, and individuals regularly contest governments’ claim to legitimate rule, and they seek opportunities to raise their voices and be heard. These efforts, which we call democratic bricolage, are mostly uncoordinated, accidental, disconnected, and dependent on opportunities as these arise. But they undermine the government’s claims to authority and legitimacy. They maintain instead the moral claim to democracy, the right to be heard and consulted. We argue that democratic bricolage is the story of democratic resilience in an authoritarian context and an under-studied and little-noticed part of the story of autocratization.

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