The United States has joined an annual list of “backsliding” democracies for the first time, the International IDEA think-tank said on Monday, pointing to a “visible deterioration” it said began in 2019.
Globally, more than one in four people live in a backsliding democracy, a proportion that rises to more than two in three with the addition of authoritarian or “hybrid” regimes, according to the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
“This year we coded the United States as backsliding for the first time, but our data suggest that the backsliding episode began at least in 2019,” it said in its report titled “Global State of Democracy 2021.”
“The United States is a high-performing democracy, and even improved its performance in indicators of impartial administration (corruption and predictable enforcement) in 2020,” Alexander Hudson, a co-author of the report, told AFP.
“However, the declines in civil liberties and checks on government indicate that there are serious problems with the fundamentals of democracy, ” Hudson added.
“A historic turning point came in 2020–21 when former president Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election results in the United States,” the report said.
In addition, Hudson pointed to a “decline in the quality of freedom of association and assembly during the summer of protests in 2020” following the police killing of George Floyd.
International IDEA bases its assessments on 50 years of democratic indicators in around 160 countries, assigning them to three categories: democracies (including those that are “backsliding”), “hybrid” governments and authoritarian regimes.