A wave of democratisation swept across the developinng world from the 1980s onwards.  However, despite the momentous transformation that this so-called 'Third Wave' has brought to formal political structures in regions ranging from Africa to Asia to Latin America, only a limited number of countries have succeeded in erstablishing consolidated and functioning democratic regimes.  Instead, many of these new regimes have become stuck in transition, combining a rhetorical acceptance of liberal democracy with essentially illiberal and/or authoritarian traits.  This article analyses the emergence and key characteristics of these 'hybrid regimes' and the challenges of democratic deepening.