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The Global State of Democracy 2021

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The Global State of Democracy 2021

Building Resilience in a Pandemic Era


5 min read
3 take-aways
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What's inside?

Democracy faces authoritarian challenges as never before, but its defenders are making progress.

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Democracy is in decline, as this sobering analysis from the think tank IDEA confirms. Across governments and regimes of all stripes, civil liberties and freedom of expression have come under attack. The United States has not been immune, either, as events on January 6, 2021, attest. And the COVID-19 pandemic has, in some places, served to justify strong-arm tactics. Still, the situation may not be as dire as it seems, the study’s authors explain. Anyone concerned about the state of democracy around the world will appreciate this important report.


Democracies across the globe faced increasing challenges to their legitimacy.

The stability that prevailed in the global order after the Cold War was short-lived. Though attempts at democracy came about in places like Malaysia, Myanmar and Tunisia at the start of the 21st century, authoritarian tendencies have since been on the rise. Democracy began fraying with the US invasion of Iraq in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001, while the 2007–2009 Great Recession added new challenges to governments’ attempts to solve widening inequality.

In just the five years from 2015 to 2020, the percentage of governments categorized as democratic dropped...

About the Author

IDEA – the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance – is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide.

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    W. U. 12 months ago
    Ideologically driven. What really do meeting such things as alleged “environmental changes” have to do with whether or not a country is more or less democratic.
    Terms are not well defined. Is more democratic mean 50.1% get to run roughshod, should it be measured by the amount of government intrusion into the lives of a political minority?