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Report Warns of 'Ominous' Decline of Democracy Around the World

Are you concerned about declining democracy?

by Axios | Updated on 2.5.19

Reproduced from a Freedom House report; Chart: Axios Visuals

The slow, steady erosion of democracy around the world continued for the 13th consecutive year, according to the latest annual "Freedom in the World" report by Freedom House, a watchdog group that advocates for democracy and human rights.

The big picture: Between 1988 and 2005, democracy surged around the world. Since then, the reversal has been less dramatic, but it has been "consistent and ominous," according to the report.

  • Political rights and civil liberties became weaker in 68 countries since last year's report, and improved in only 50 countries.
  • The authors cite a shifting global balance of power in favor of countries like China, and "anger and anxiety in Europe and the United States over economic inequality and the loss of personal status" as underlying causes of the strains we're seeing on democratic institutions.
  • Globally, 39% of people live in countries deemed "free," while 24% live in "partly free" countries and 37% "not free."

A warning about the United States: The report says the U.S. freedom score has declined by 8 points (from 94 to 86) over the past eight years. It's still firmly in the "free category," but it's falling behind counterparts like the U.K., Canada, France, Australia, Germany and Japan.

  • The report blames longstanding problems like political polarization, loss of economic mobility, the influence of special interests and the rise of partisan media. But it also warns that President Trump "exerts an influence on American politics that is straining our core values and testing the stability of our constitutional system."

Other big changes:

  • Hungary was demoted from "free" to "partly free."
  • Nicaragua is now classified "not free" rather than "partly free."
  • Serbia was downgraded from "free" to "partly free."
  • Uganda was reclassified from "partly free" to "not free."
  • Zimbabwe was upgraded from "not free" to "partly free."
Axios

Written by Axios

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(82)
  • Julie
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    Look at the US. It is no longer the democratic idea of what the majority wants wins. It is no longer the idea of compromise. Whoever has the most money wins and when they win it’s their way or the highway. Trump and his wall. Perfect example.

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  • Poli.Sci
    Voted Maybe
    02/05/2019
    ···

    So if we go back into history, there was no “democracy” that we understand today. Democracy in Ancient Athens was actually a form of Republic, hence the name of Plato’s book “Republic.” In this article, the scale they go off of is based on common laws and natural rights, not the actual definition of democracy which is the ability of the populace to have suffrage in the political system. Natural rights are broadly defined, and in the US those rights are being hijacked by journalists who believe they may say anything and everything without censorship, and that’s from both the left and right. Some people have stated that Nationalism is the cause of this and I challenge those people to truly understand Nationalism. Nationalism is not Xenophobic but a sense of pride in one’s nation and to those of us who believe we should have an actual nationality within the United States built on the foundations of this country are perceived as racists. This country was formed on Christian and Natural Rights, and created by the Common Laws of England and the philosophical teachings of Representative Government and Autonomy. In a sense, I am not worried about the decline of democracy because I believe the system is actually being rigged by those it grants freedoms too in the US. I also believe that democracy is being strained by those unwilling to participate in it but still want all the rewards of living within it, such as gaining “free” healthcare and college tuition. If we want democracy to prevail within republics and within Constitutional Monarchies, than we must be willing to work in order to be granted those rights and freedoms. We should have an actual identity with a common language within the United States, and that identity is and should be the identity formed at the opening of the American Revolution, not jumbling the identity of the 50,000 different identities we have today.

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  • Alan
    Voted No
    02/05/2019
    ···

    This article asked the wrong question. I am concerned about the decline of our Constitutional Republic. I read these comments and most want to blame Trump, who has only been in office a little over two years. Those of you that want to blame Trump, fail to see the bigger picture or refuse to see it. The problem started with Roosevelt and his New Deal and then got worse over the years. Then the unconstitutional Administrative State, making laws that the Constitution says only Congress can make, then the unconstitutional war on drugs, which is used to erode our Constitutional protected rights and now everyone is a criminal and guilty until proven innocent. We no longer have a representative government and we have politicians trying to pass laws, even now, to further erode our constitutional protected rights. The entitlement society wants those that apply themselves to be taxed more, so the lazy can get more freebies. Nothing is free. The government has to steal it from someone before they can give it away. I noticed the yes votes at this time are 91% and the people to blame are the ones that keep voting the same ones into elected positions over and over, like Nancy and Chuck. Also, most are not paying attention to what is happening in France and England and now we have those same kind of people being elected into our government. Look at the bigger picture and learn from other countries mistakes.

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  • August
    02/05/2019
    ···

    Democracy dies one step at a time if it is allowed to. Our freedoms were all fought for, so do not let their sacrifices be in vain.

    Like (4)
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  • burrkitty
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    It’s because we have failed to maintain our own democracy to the highest standards. The “shining beacon on the hill” isn’t the United States anymore. We failed our own people first. So the domino effect is felt world wide.

    Like (19)
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  • Carlos
    Voted No
    02/05/2019
    ···

    I like to know this article definitions for 1) Democracy and 2) Free.

    Like (6)
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  • JTJ
    Voted Maybe
    02/05/2019
    ···

    Really? How is it that Trump "exerts an influence on American politics that is straining our core values and testing the stability of our constitutional system."? It seems to me that Trump has done more to preserve our constitutional principles than any other president in the last 30 years. It is the biased news from partisan hacks like axios that is damaging to our constitutional republic.

    Like (6)
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  • Logan
    02/06/2019
    ···

    This map is pretty whack. Europe and Australia should be orange. Maybe blue but definitely not gray.

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  • Chickie
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    #45’s campaign, election and time in the Executive Office, has eroded civility, compromise and demoted the voices of the Working Muddle Class and Working Poor. Instead our country is divided by huge gaps filled with racism, distrust for peoples of color, of lower economic standing, towards peoples with accents, environmental/conservation policy reductions and lies. Americans with honor and bravery, (i.e., Sen. John McCain, Col. Joe Mattis, Puerto Rican Mayor Carmen Cruz), are chided and mocked for their service to the American people. There certainly seems to be powerful governments who are backing the actions by #45 and political leaders both with money and ego inflating. Their plan, to create and keep chaos in our country so that attention is deflected from subversive tactics, (i.e., election tampering, reducing our military presence against terrorism, and alienation from our Allies), aids their causes and strategies. The Democracy that our Forefathers wanted for our nation has become the punchline by Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and other countries where only the rich and powerful are represented while their own peoples are left starving and depraved. Our representatives must roll up their sleeves and get to work to restore what has been lost; regain the footing we once had and proudly stand with other countries that promote Democracy for all peoples.

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  • Pat
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    It appears the current most dominant energy may be nationalism which is displayed by lack of caring for other people, customs, and religions that are unlike us. It is also racism because it’s a belief that the people’s lives (of other races) are not as important as ours. It is the opposite of what Jesus and other great prophets have taught. This is the biggest thing I dislike about Trump as a leader; he is a man of hate. No matter what else he does I believe this one thing is the most destructive characteristic that he has. My hope is Trump’s reign is short lived that the energy will change and the philosophy of people like Ghandi and MLK will dominate.

    Like (15)
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  • Karen
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    I extremely concerned about the increasing decline in democracy throughout the world. All we need is a bunch of maniacal, narcissistic, dictators in a pissing match, to assure that we have a disastrous, apocalyptic future for our children and grandchildren. Mix nukes with terrorism and global warming and we, as humans, can kiss our asses good-bye. I am looking to my elected officials to take a stand to end the decline of democracy in the US. That means you, Cornyn, Cruz & Roy!

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  • Mark
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    The decline in democracy is in fact self imposed. Moreover it’s a symptom rather than the problem. The true root of the problem is the rise of evil and how we (the majority) in these democracies have allowed degenerates within our societies to embrace and promote these evils in the name of freedom. Need I say more? I think not.

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  • Hillary
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    When people have become so selfish and self centered that they vote for public servants who choose to kill programs that help children, disabled, elderly, mentally ill people and instead let them suffer and sometimes die rather than share a little of their wealth there is very little hope. When corporations, lobbyists, the NRA, OWN our politicians there is little hope.

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  • Ken
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    Yes I am. If we don't start listening to each other and quit forming a line in the sand of who and who isn't a faithful american oir country could easily join the ranks of non democratic countries.

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  • Jackie
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    Trump is trying to push the limits of the presidents power by his authoritative style of ruling and all of congress especially The republicans need to push back and not be wimpy about standing up for the constitution instead of their reelection chances

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    Yes, it is very apparent. Look at all of the unethical, immoral social injustices being committed all around the world by Conservatives. Conservatism appears to be on the rise, but I believe, they are just trying to exert their final wishes before they ultimately lose throughout the world. All over the world, people are realizing that Conservative Dogma is a lie and is oppressive. Citizens are democratically voting to legalize marijuana, make it such that gay people are equal human beings and have the same rights as heterosexuals and civil rights and religious freedoms, including atheism. Conservatives are losing their unethical wars all over the globe. Their reign of terror is ending and they do not like it.

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  • Kari
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    When only a small group of wealthy people obtain most of the political influence, we no longer have a democracy. Democracy is built upon the idea that we are all equal. If a wealthy man can force feed a politician to the populous through astronomical contributions, the people have no ability to retaliate. Super PACs, racism, and an unwillingness to progress into the future, will be the death of this nation.

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  • verymary
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    I'm also worried abut the decline of democracy here at home. An autocratic President is a despot.

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  • A
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    We’re on that track too. With all this grandstanding, you all are ignoring the fact that our country is no longer governed by the will of the people. You allow rich men to make decisions that go against the will of your constituents.

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  • Brian
    Voted Yes
    02/05/2019
    ···

    Should it be a surprise when we have a wanna be dictator in the Whitehouse and a spineless Republican Congress

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  • James
    Voted Yes
    02/06/2019
    ···

    It’s also a decline in going to church as well! Put the U.S. on that list!

    Like (4)
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