Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Political Science (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Srobana Bhattacharya


In the immediate post-Cold War era, proponents of democracy envisioned a world with few barriers to the spread of democracy and its institutions globally. However, a clear trend has been definitively established in the recent academic discourse pointing to a marked decline in the quality of democracies in several democratizing states. While the root causes for this decline continue to be a contentious subject, much of the existing literature depends on institutional theory to explain the cause of democratic backsliding. Concurrently, we have seen a dramatic stream of news about the state of democracy in two of the world’s most significant democracies- the US and India. Given the seeming influence of right-wing leaders in these countries, the question then arises about the effect an ethnonationalist executive would have on a multicultural democracy. With this, I seek to establish first: what constitutes an ethnonationalist executive, secondly: whether or not ethnonationalism as a manifest ideology in these cases lead to democratic decline logically, and thirdly: whether former President Trump and current PM Modi, if determined to be ethnonationalist executives, have instituted policy that clearly stems from normative ethnonationalist arguments, with a demonstrable decline in the appropriate democratic metrics. The goal of this project is meant to better understand the competing ideologies that are of apparent importance to democracy and its maintenance and aims to be of assistance to both policymakers and researchers alike.