Democracy in decline worldwide amid pandemic
Copenhagen – An intergovernmental body said in its new report on Monday that democracy is deteriorating worldwide, with countries in particular taking undemocratic and unnecessary measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
“Many democratic governments are in retreat,” said the International Institute for Democracy and Elections, or the International Institute for Democracy and Elections.
The 34-country organization added that as of August 2021, 64% of countries had taken measures to curb an epidemic that they considered “disproportionate, unnecessary or illegal”.
The Sweden-based body added that the situation was getting worse in non-democratic countries. She added that authoritarian regimes have become “emboldened in their repression,” freedom of expression has been restricted and the rule of law weakened.
In its flagship report on the state of democracy, the International IDEA said the number of declining democracies has doubled in the past decade, mentioning in particular the United States, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.
“This is the time for democracies to be bold, to innovate and revitalize themselves,” International IDEA Secretary General Kevin Casas Zamora said in a statement.
The report stated that “the past two years since our last report have not been good for democracy,” and the achievement when democracy became the dominant form of government “now hangs in the balance as never before.”
“Overall, the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction in 2020 outnumbered those moving in a democratic direction,” the report said, adding that in the past two years, the world has lost at least four democracies, “either through flawed elections or military coups.” .
The 80-page report by the intergovernmental organization whose mission is to promote democracy around the world noted the “remarkable power of civic activism”.
She said more than 80 countries have seen protests and civic activism during the pandemic despite often harsh government restrictions. However, pro-democracy movements faced repression in Belarus; Cuba; Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland; Myanmar. and Sudan.
The report comes ahead of US President Joe Biden’s virtual “Democracy Summit” on December 9-10 that aims to bring together leaders of government, civil society and the private sector in what Biden has described as a global confrontation against rising authoritarian forces.
In Asia, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Myanmar have all suffered a “wave of growing authoritarianism,” the International IDEA said. But the erosion of democracy is found in India, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka.
“China’s influence, along with its deepening autocracy, jeopardizes the legitimacy of the democratic model,” the report stated.
In Africa, the decline of democracy has “undermined the remarkable progress that has been made across the continent over the past three decades”. She added that the pandemic has increased pressure on governments to respond to concerns about governance, rights and social inequality. She also referred to the occurrence of military coups in Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan.
The report also noted that half of the democracies in the Americas suffered from the erosion of democracy, with notable declines in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador and the United States.
As for Europe, the pandemic has “put pressure on democracy” and in some countries where democratic principles were already under threat, it has provided governments with an excuse to further weaken democracy. Non-democratic European governments – IDA said – have identified Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia and Turkey. – Its extremely repressive practices have already intensified.
“The pandemic has widened the pre-existing rift between high-performing democracies in Western Europe and weaker counterparts in Central and Eastern Europe,” said Sam van der Stack, head of the Europe Regional Program.
“This division will continue to challenge Europe’s unity, as it also faces greater external pressures from non-democratic great powers. But its increasing democratic isolation also offers opportunities for greater integration and cooperation, as Europe is forced to regard the value of democracy as its core founding force.”
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