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The United States Added to List of ‘Backsliding’ Democracies

An international think tank dedicated to democracy around the world has added the United States to its list of “backsliding” democracies in its annual report titled “Global State of Democracy 2021.”

“The world is becoming more authoritarian”

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) is a Stockholm-based, international think tank that works to advance democracy worldwide.

The alarming finding of the IDEA annual report, entitled “Global State of Democracy 2021,” is that “the world is becoming more authoritarian.”

“As non-democratic 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,” the IDEA wrote.

Authoritarianism increases for 5th consecutive year, and by threefold

“For the fifth consecutive year, the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction exceeds the number of countries moving in a democratic direction,” the IDEA continued in the report. “In fact, the number moving in the direction of authoritarianism is three times the number moving towards democracy.” 

On the website of the IDEA, a graph shows the global state of democracy from 1975-2020 (2021) reflecting countries “moving away” and “moving towards” democracies. The global report can be downloaded as a PDF.

US added to list of “backsliding” democracies for the first time ever

In a startling conclusion of this year’s annual report by the IDEA, for the first time ever, the democracy think tank added the United States of America to what it refers to as its list of “backsliding” democracies. And according to the report, the inclusion of the US was overdue by a couple of years.

“This year we coded the United States as backsliding for the first time,” the idea report said, “but our data suggest that the backsliding episode began at least in 2019.”

“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 Alexander Hudson, a co-author of the report, CBS reported.

“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 polarization…is one of the most concerning developments,” said secretary-general Kevin Casas-Zamora of the IDEA.

According to the Institute, more than one in four people live in a backsliding democracy globally. However, when “hybrid” authoritarian regimes are considered, that number increases to over two in three, the Guardian reported.