For The First Time, America Listed As A ‘Backsliding’ Democracy By International Watchdog

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The United States of America has been listed by watchdog International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance among countries with "backsliding" democracy.

According to the Christian Headlines, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance released the "Global State of Democracy" report this month, which enlisted America under countries with "backsliding democracies" for having succumbed to "authoritarian tendencies" for years now.

The report highlights the threats on democracy brought by the pandemic to the world, especially with the "imposition of states of emergency, the spread of disinformation, and crackdowns on independent media and freedom of expression." The report revealed that a quarter or one fourth of the world's population now live in countries whose democracies are "backsliding" and incidence of this phenomena is at its highest compared to the previous decade.

"It is also a tale in which democracies are hollowed out by the citizens' loss of faith in the ability of democratic institutions to respond to social demands and solve problems, as well as by the toxic disease of corruption, which demolishes any semblance of trust," the report said

"Add to this the credibility-sapping blunders performed by leading democratic powers over the past two decades-from the invasion of Iraq to the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 and to the violently contested elections in the United States-and the simultaneous emergence of credible alternative models of governance, and we have the equivalent of a witches' brew for the global health of democracy. The pandemic has simply made that brew thicker and more poisonous," the report continued.

According to the report, the decline in democracies vary differently per country in so far as the level of degradation is concerned. Some countries like that of Canada's declined "in the quality of Effective Parliament" while that of those which experienced the greatest decline in the decade such as Turkey, Nicaragua, Serbia, and Poland declined "in terms of the average across all 16 subattributes of democracy and that were democracies at the start of the decline."

The report said that countries such as Hungary, the Philippines, and the United States of America, who are included in the list of backsliding democracies, "have seen a number of democratic attributes affected by measures that amount to democratic violations--that is, measures that were disproportionate, illegal, indefinite, or unconnected to the nature of the emergency."

"Unlike outright authoritarian regimes or even hybrid regimes, backsliding democracies use parliamentary majorities, obtained by initially free and fair elections and high levels of electoral support, to gradually dismantle checks on government, freedom of expression, a free media and minority rights from within the democratic system," the report said. "This process of democratic backsliding is often gradual, taking an average of nine years from the onset of backsliding until it ends in either a democratic breakdown or a return to democratic health."

The report said that 70% of the global population are in either non-democratic regimes or in democratically backsliding countries. Only 9% of the world's population live in countries regarded as having "high-performing democracies." Democratically backsliding countries actually represent more than 30% of the world's population as of date. The report stressed the dangers of backsliding countries have in terms of democratic systems, as it dismantles the very core attributes of democracy.

Moreover, the report highlighted five drivers to the decline of democracy in countries that included "the rise of illiberal and populist parties in government in the last decade," the "increasing levels of societal and political polarization and low levels of support for democracy, economic crises tied to declining support for democracy, "mimicking" the anti-democratic behavior of other countries, and the "struggle to balance freedom of expression (especially through social media) with public safety, as well as the scourge of disinformation."