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"The assault on civil liberties is not specific to Britain. It is a tendency evidenced throughout the so-called “advanced democracies”. Indeed proclamations of “democracy” increasingly function as a thin veneer, behind which the state has abrogated to itself near autocratic powers. "

abrogate--> (vt) cancel, put aside

I don't understand the composition of these words in this sentence.

I know he meant to say: the state has put aside democracy, and try to acquire near autocratic powers. But there isn't a meaning of "acquire" in "abrogate." So I am confused. How can the state abragated to itself? Could somebody help me to dissect this sentence?
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Not a felicitous structure. The writer means'the state has abrogated [the powers granted to the people in a democracy and assigned] to itself near autocratic powers'. It seems to me to be overreaching the limits of elision.

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I fully agree with MrM, but the expression is becoming surprisingly popular. There's got to be a collective misunderstanding of the word. Sometimes a famous person will misuse a little-known word, and everyone says, "Aha!, so that's what that means!" But I don't think we can blame this one on George Bush.