This is what happened in much of the Arab spring, and also in Ukraine’s Orange revolution a decade ago.
In 2004 Mr Yanukovych was ousted from office by vast street protests, only to be re-elected to the presidency (with the help of huge amounts of Russian money) in 2010, after the opposition politicians who replaced him turned out to be just as hopeless. Where autocrats have been driven out of office, their opponents have mostly failed to create viable democratic regimes.
The collapse of the Soviet Union created many fledgling democracies in central Europe.
By 2000 Freedom House, an American think-tank, classified 120 countries, or 63% of the world total, as democracies.
In the 18th century only the American revolution produced a sustainable democracy.
During the 19th century monarchists fought a prolonged rearguard action against democratic forces.
Freedom House reckons that 2013 was the eighth consecutive year in which global freedom declined, and that its forward march peaked around the beginning of the century.
Between 19 the cause of democracy experienced only a few setbacks, but since 2000 there have been many.
Governments had steadily extended entitlements over decades, allowing dangerous levels of debt to develop, and politicians came to believe that they had abolished boom-bust cycles and tamed risk.
Many people became disillusioned with the workings of their political systems—particularly when governments bailed out bankers with taxpayers’ money and then stood by impotently as financiers continued to pay themselves huge bonuses.