May 18, 2024

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Half of the world’s democracies are in decline, a new report says

Half of the world’s democracies are in decline, a new report says

(STOCKHOLM) Half of democracies are experiencing erosion of political order, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and the economic crisis, according to a report released Wednesday by the IDEA International think tank, an international organization for democracy and electoral assistance.


“We are now seeing very unfavorable factors for democracy, which have been exacerbated by the fallout from the pandemic-induced economic crisis and the economic consequences of the war in Ukraine,” Secretary-General Kevin Casas-Zamora told Swedish AFP. based system.

According to him, this decline can occur, for example, in questioning the credibility of elections, attacks on the rule of law or restrictions on civic space.

Democracies with the most serious democratic erosion, which the report classifies as “retreating,” include the United States since last year, as well as Brazil, Hungary, Poland, India and Mauritius, increasing from six to seven in 2022. of El Salvador.

For Kevin Casas-Zamora, the US case is particularly troubling.

According to the report, the country faces problems such as political polarization, institutional dysfunction and threats to civil liberties.

“It is now clear that the fever has not abated with the election of a new government,” said Mr. Casas-Zamora said.

According to him, this is particularly due to the uncontrolled level of polarization and attempts to “compromise the credibility of election results without any evidence of fraud”.

He believes the US has also taken a “retrospective step” on sexual and reproductive rights, adding, “It’s very exceptional because most countries, […]Progress in Expanding Sexual and Reproductive Rights”.

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More authoritarianism

Of the 173 countries under the report, 52 democracies have fallen.

In contrast, 27 countries returned to autocracy, twice as many as returned to democracy.

Almost half of the authoritarian regimes intensified their repression in 2022, with Afghanistan, Belarus, Cambodia, the Comoros and Nicaragua seeing “general collapse”.

In Asia, where only 54% of people live in democracies, autocracy is on the rise, while the African continent remains “solid” in the face of instability, despite facing a greater number of challenges.

Ten years after the Arab Spring, the Middle East remains “the world’s most authoritarian region” and has only three democracies: Iraq, Israel and Lebanon.

In Europe, nearly half of the continent’s democracies, or 17 countries, have suffered from democratic erosion over the past five years.

“Democracies struggle to effectively balance environments marked by uncertainty and anxiety. Populism continues to take hold around the world as innovation and growth stagnate or decline,” the report said.

He notes “disturbing trends” even in countries with medium or high levels of democratic standards.

Over the past five years, progress has stagnated across all the indices the think tank surveys, with some returning to levels seen in the 1990s, the report said.

“Democratic institutions have really declined in the last two decades, which has become a burning issue of our time,” says Casas-Zamora.

There are still signs of progress.

The report indicates that people are coming together to push their government to respond to the demands of the 21 peoplee century, from reproductive rights in Latin America to youth climate protests around the world.

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“But in countries like Iran, people took to the streets to demand freedom, equality and dignity,” Casas-Zamora adds.

“There are some glimmers of hope, but the overall trend remains bleak.”