HomeU.S. is now among the "declining democracies" for the first time

U.S. is now among the “declining democracies” for the first time

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The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) on Monday added the United States to its annual list of “backsliding” democracies, citing a “visible deterioration” that began in 2019.

According to the Global State of Democracy 2021 report, “This year we coded the United States as backsliding for the first time, but our data suggest that the backsliding episode began at least in 2019.”

“A historic turning point came in 2020–21 when former president Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election results in the United States,” the report said.

With authoritarian or “hybrid” regimes included, the figure rises to two out of three individuals living in backsliding democracies.

“The United States is a high-performing democracy, and even improved its performance in indicators of impartial administration (corruption and predictable enforcement) in 2020. However, the declines in civil liberties and checks on government indicate that there are serious problems with the fundamentals of democracy,” said one of the authors of the report Alexander Hudson.

After the killing of George Floyd by police, Hudson saw a decrease in the degree of freedom of association and assembly.

According to International IDEA, more than 160 nations are classified as democracies, hybrid governments, or authoritarian regimes based on 50 years of democratic indices.

‘Runaway polarisation’ 

“The visible deterioration of democracy in the United States, as seen in the increasing tendency to contest credible election results, the efforts to suppress participation (in elections), and the runaway polarisation… is one of the most concerning developments,” said International IDEA secretary-general Kevin Casas-Zamora.

He warned of a knock-on effect, noting: “The violent contestation of the 2020 election without any evidence of fraud has been replicated, in different ways, in places as diverse as Myanmar, Peru and Israel.”

A quarter of the world’s population now lives in backsliding democracies, which have increased in the last decade. Hungarians, Poles, and Slovenians are all included in this year’s list of “established democracies.”

Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Mali all went from hybrid governments to authoritarian regimes at the same time.

Turning authoritarian 

This year will be the fifth year in a row that authoritarian countries outweigh democratic ones.

According to International IDEA, this tendency will continue till 2021.

There will be only 98 democracies in the world by 2021, the lowest number in many years, along with 20 “hybrid” governments, such as those of Russia and Turkey, and 47 authoritarian regimes such as those of Iran and China.

According to Casas-Zamora, if we include backslidden democracies and hybrid and authoritarian nations, we’re looking at 70% of the world’s population.

“That tells you that there is something fundamentally serious happening with the quality of democracy,” he added.

Observers claim that after the spread of the COVID-19 virus, democratic rights have been eroded even further.

“Some countries, particularly Hungary, India, the Philippines and the USA, have (imposed) measures that amount to democratic violations — that is, measures that were disproportionate, illegal, indefinite or unconnected to the nature of the emergency,” the report said.

“The pandemic has certainly accelerated and magnified some of the negative trends, particularly in places where democracy and the rule of law were ailing before the pandemic,” Casas-Zamora said.

Image Credit: Gettty

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