Mon. Dec 6th, 2021

The report by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance says ‘visible decline’ began in 2019.

The United States has been added to an annual list of “apostate” democracies for the first time, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance NGOs said, indicating a “visible decline” that began in 2019.

The Stockholm-based organization makes its annual assessment using 50 years of democratic indicators. It places about 160 countries in three categories: democracies, including “backward” democracies; “Hybrid” governments; and authoritarian regimes.

Globally, the report said that more than one in four people live in a “backward” democracy, while two thirds of the world live in either a “backward” democracy, “hybrid” or authoritarian regimes.

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

“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, referring to a campaign by the former president and his allies to overthrow the 2020 U.S. election results, which culminated in Trump’s supporters storming the U.S. legislature on January 6.

The report also cited the growing polarization in the US, as well as state voting laws “Influencing minorities unequally in a negative way”.

Kevin Casas-Zamora, secretary general of IDEA, calls the “visible deterioration of democracy” in the US “one of the most worrying developments” in the 2021 report, according to the AFP news agency.

He warned of a spill-over effect, noting: “The violent contention of the 2020 election without any evidence of fraud has been repeated in various ways in places as diverse as Myanmar, Peru and Israel.”

Global fallback

The report said the number of backward democracies in the world had doubled in the past decade.

In addition to “established democracies” such as the USA, the list of EU member states includes Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.

Two countries that were on the list last year – Ukraine and Northern Macedonia – were removed this year after their situation improved.

Meanwhile, Turkey, Nicaragua, Serbia, Poland and Brazil have been considered the most significant democratic declines over the past decade.

The report says that by 2020, there were 98 democracies in the world, 20 “hybrid” governments, including Russia, Morocco and Turkey, and 47 authoritarian regimes, which include China, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Iran.

The trend towards democratic erosion has “become more acute and worrying” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the report added.

“Some countries, especially Hungary, India, the Philippines and the USA, have [imposed] “measures that amount to democratic violations – that is, measures that are disproportionate, illegal, indefinite or not related to the nature of the emergency,” the statement said.

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