Defiance in the face of autocratization


For the first time in two decades, there are more closed autocracies than liberal democracies in the world, but the future is not entirely bleak, says the latest report from the University of Gothenburg’s Varieties of Democracy Institute (V-Dem Institute).

“28 percent of the world’s population, 2.2 billion people, now live in closed autocracies compared to 13 percent, 1 billion people, who live in liberal democracies,” according to the authors of Democracy Report 2023: Defiance in the Face of Autocratization.

However, some states have managed to overcome democratic dismantling, the report notes. Bolivia, Moldova, Ecuador, the Maldives, North Macedonia, Slovenia, South Korea, and Zambia have all succeeded in reversing their autocratic evolution.

“The fact that eight democracies that were in a period of autocratization have stopped that process and ‘bounced back’ is uplifting news for democracy,” says V-Dem’s Staffan I. Lindberg.

“It is rare to see countries that can make a U-turn. The countries that have succeeded in doing have brought about a pro-democracy mobilization, they have re-established an objective judicial system, deposed authoritarian leaders, introduced free and fair elections, worked to reduce corruption, and rejuvenated civil society.”

Freedom House hosts a virtual discussion on “Freedom in the World 2023: Marking 50 Years in the Struggle for Democracy.” Speakers: Nury Turkel, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; Leopoldo Lopez, Venezuelan political leader, Sakharov Prize winner and co-founder of the World Liberty Congress; Rachel Kleinfeld, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and National Endowment for Democracy (NED) board member; and Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. 10 a.m. March 9, 2023. Register here.


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