The United States is among the world’s major backsliding democracies this year alongside countries such as India and Brazil, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) said in their Global State of Democracy Report 2021, published Monday.
“For the fifth consecutive year, the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction exceeds the number of countries moving in a democratic direction,” International IDEA said. “Some of the most worrying examples of backsliding are found in some of the world’s largest countries (Brazil, India). The United States and three members of the European Union (EU) (Hungary, Poland and Slovenia, which holds the chair of the EU in 2021) have also seen concerning democratic declines.”
Regarding the US, the organization singled out “the violently contested elections” of 2020 and the Trump administration’s early ban on travel from China during the pandemic.
The world is becoming more authoritarian due to non-democratic regimes becoming more brazen in their repression, as well as many democratic governments backsliding by restricting free speech and weakening the rule of law, exacerbated by COVID-19 restrictions, International IDEA said.
The number of countries moving in the direction of authoritarianism triples those moving toward democracy, International IDEA noted.
However, democracy is resilient and pro-democracy movements in 2020 and 2021 such as those in Belarus, Cuba, Hong Kong and Myanmar show the willingness of activists to brave repression, International IDEA said. Over 80% of countries have experienced protests during the pandemic, despite restrictions on assembly in nearly every country in the world, they added.
The Sweden-based intergovernmental organization in its report called for a global alliance for the advancement of democracy through a three-point agenda, which includes cooperation between government institutions and civil society, reforming democratic institutions and behaviors, and preventing the rise of authoritarianism through investment in democracy education.