March 28, 2023

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Democracy decline worldwide may reach ‘tipping point’: researchers

A new report on global freedom finds that democracy could be approaching a “tipping point” for improvement.

Non-partisan non-profit organization Freedom Housee found that global freedom declined in 2022 for the 17th consecutive year, but noted that “the gap between the number of countries improving and declining was the narrowest it has been since the negative pattern began.”

Thirty-five countries saw a deterioration in their political rights and civil liberties last year, according to the report, but 34 saw improvement.

“This latest release documents continuing troubling trends, but it also gives some reason to hope that the stagnation of freedom over the past 17 years may turn a corner. There is nothing inevitable about authoritarian expansion,” said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, while the regimes Authoritarianism is still very dangerous, but it is not peerless.

The report noted that the changes noted in 34 countries saw improvements in freedom included competitive elections and a rollback of COVID-19 restrictions in some places.

The decline in freedom has been driven by a “trend of attacks on freedom of expression” that has emerged throughout the past 17 years of democratic backsliding, and the researchers found that media freedom was “under pressure” in 157 countries and territories last year.

On the researchers’ four-point scale of freedom, 33 countries and territories score zero for media freedom and 15 countries score zero for individuals’ right to personal expression, numbers that have more than doubled in the past two decades.

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Ukraine saw the second-worst decline in political rights and civil liberties, according to the research, after Russia’s invasion early last year — and Russia itself also topped the list of the top 10 countries with the biggest declines.

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