As autocratization accelerates, democratic resistance against this trend is growing, according to new V-Dem Institute data. For the first time since 2001, autocracies became a majority of the world’s political regimes, comprising 92 countries hosting 54% of the world’s population. Yet pro-democracy mass mobilization reached all-time highs in 2019 as the share of countries with substantial pro-democracy mass protests rose from 27% in 2009 to 44% in 2019, says V-Dem’s Democracy Report 2020, from the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute.
“The unprecedented degree of mobilization for democracy in light of deepening autocratization is a sign of hope,” the report states. “While pro-autocracy rulers attempt to curtail the space for civil society, millions of citizens have demonstrated their commitment to democracy.”
Citizens staged mass protests in 34 autocracies, including Algeria and in Sudan where citizens secured a democratic breakthrough. Armenia, The Gambia, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia are the four countries registering the largest democratic gains.
Autocratization – the decline of democratic traits – is accelerating:
• For the first time since 2001, autocracies are in the majority: 92 countries – home to 54% of the global population.
• Almost 35% of the world’s population live in autocratizing nations – 2.6 billion people.
• The EU has its first non-democracy as a member: Hungary is now classified as an electoral authoritarian regime.
Major G20 nations and all regions of the world are part of the “third wave of autocratization”:
• Autocratization is affecting Brazil, India, the United States of America, and Turkey, which are major economies with sizeable populations, exercising substantial global military, economic, and political influence.
• Latin America is back to a level last recorded in the early 1990s while Eastern Europe and Central Asia are at post-Soviet Union lows.
• India is on the verge of losing its democratic status due to the shrinking of space for media, civil society, and opposition under Prime Minister Modi’s government.
Attacks on freedom of expression and media intensify, as the quality of elections begins to deteriorate:
• Attacks on freedom of expression and media freedom are now affecting 31 countries, compared to 19 two years ago.
• The Clean Elections Index fell significantly in 16 nations while improving in only twelve.
• Media censorship and the repression of civil society have intensified in a record 37 countries – eleven more than the 26 states currently affected by severe autocratization. Since these indicators are typically the first to move in a gradual process of autocratization, this development is an early warning signal for what might be yet to come.
New V-Dem indicators on Civic and Academic Space show that autocratization taints the whole society:
• Academic freedom has registered a conspicuous average decline of 13% in autocratizing countries over the last 10 years.
• The right to peaceful assembly and protest has declined by 14% on average in autocratizing countries.
• Toxic polarization, pro-autocracy mass protests, and political violence rise in many autocratizing countries, such as in Brazil and Poland.
New V-Dem data on pro-democracy mass mobilization reveals all-time highs in 2019:
• The share of countries with substantial pro-democracy mass protests rose from 27% in 2009 to 44% in 2019.
• Citizens are taking to the streets in order to defend civil liberties and the rule of law, and to fight for free and fair elections and political liberty.
Protesters in democracies resist the dismantling of democracy while their counterparts in autocracies are demanding more democracy:
• During 2019, citizens in 29 democracies mobilized against autocratization, such as in Bolivia, Poland, and Malawi.
• Citizens staged mass protests in 34 autocracies, among them Algeria, Hong Kong, and Sudan.
• In several cases, such as in Sudan, citizens successfully achieved breakthroughs for freedom and democracy.
Democratization continues to progress around the world:
• In 22 countries, pro-democracy mass protests have been followed by substantial democratization during the last ten years.
• Armenia, The Gambia, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia are the four countries achieving the greatest democratic gains.
• Ecuador shows that while autocratization can be turned around, it is difficult to return to a stable democracy. RTWT
The survey confirms trends towards democratic regression identified in earlier surveys from the Economist Intelligence Unit, Cambridge University‘s Centre for the Future of Democracy, the Pew Research Center and Freedom House, a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).