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Why do new democracies sometimes fail? This CGD brief by visiting fellow Ethan Kapstein explores the underlying reasons for frequent backsliding in the world's fledgling democracies and offers the international community recommendations for helping them stay on track toward political stability. Kapstein argues that the international community should encourage political arrangements in which government leaders are constrained by effective checks and balances, and economic policies that help to ensure that the benefits of growth are widely shared.