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International IDEA: “Democracy is at Risk”

Last month the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, founded in 1995 and based in Stockholm, Sweden, released its 2021 report on The Global State of Democracy. According to their findings, more than a quarter of the world’s population now live in democratically backsliding countries. Together with those living in outright non-democratic regimes, they make up more than two-thirds of the world’s population. As we are entering the last month of 2021 and as we start to look ahead at what awaits us in 2022, their report brings up critical questions.

“Democracy is at risk,” the report’s introduction begins. “Its survival is endangered by a perfect storm of threats, both from within and from a rising tide of authoritarianism.” The pandemic has preyed more on weaker democracies and fragile states while political systems with strong rule of law and separation of powers have proved more resilient.

“The world is becoming more authoritarian as nondemocratic regimes become even more brazen in their repression and many democratic governments suffer from backsliding by adopting their tactics of restricting free speech and weakening the rule of law.”

Why should we be concerned? 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 (Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia, which holds the chair of the EU in 2021) have also seen concerning democratic declines.

Here we can only scratch the surface of critical topics on voting, democracy, and civic engagement. The fact that the United States is included together with Brazil, India, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia is a warning sign not to be ignored.

Source: International IDEAS www.idea.int.

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