For its latest appraisal, the think-tank convened around 165 experts to pore over a questionnaire about political rights and civil liberties in 195 countries and 15 territories. Each country was given a score from 0 to 100 and classified as “free”, “partly free” or “not free”. The results show that the world has suffered its 15th consecutive year of democratic decline. In February an annual survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister company of The Economist, reached a similar conclusion.
Even some of the world’s most durable democracies are struggling. America is classified by Freedom House as “free” but is no longer near the top of the class. Since 2016 the country has dropped 6 points. The report argues that the fact that Donald Trump’s calls to overturn November’s presidential election in America went “unchecked by most lawmakers from his own party” undermined basic democratic principles. India, the world’s most populous democracy, was downgraded from “free” to “partly free”. Under Narendra Modi, the prime minister, the country has elevated “narrow Hindu-nationalist interests” at the expense of “equal rights for all”, the report says.
Fifteen years—that’s hard to believe, but I’m not going to spend a minute arguing the data. That timing puts the US near the height of fighting the civil war in Iraq. Surely, that’s not a coincidence and we, the birth nation of democracy, have had a role in its decline. Anyone still celebrating Biden’s victory is fooling themselves into thinking the worst is behind us as more trouble lies ahead.➵