Thursday, June 06, 2019

Freedom House Maps the Decline of Democracy

Freedom House has released a report, Freedom in the World, 2019: Democracy in Retreat. The illustration speaks volumes.

So far it has been antiliberal populist movements of the far right—those that emphasize national sovereignty, are hostile to immigration, and reject constitutional checks on the will of the majority—that have been most effective at seizing the open political space. In countries from Italy to Sweden, antiliberal politicians have shifted the terms of debate and won elections by promoting an exclusionary national identity as a means for frustrated majorities to gird themselves against a changing global and domestic order. By building alliances with or outright capturing mainstream parties on the right, antiliberals have been able to launch attacks on the institutions designed to protect minorities against abuses and prevent monopolization of power. Victories for antiliberal movements in Europe and the United States in recent years have emboldened their counterparts around the world, as seen most recently in the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil.
The United States retreated from its traditional role
 as both a champion and an exemplar of democracy
 amid an accelerating decline
 in American political rights and civil liberties.’
These movements damage democracies internally through their dismissive attitude toward core civil and political rights, and they weaken the cause of democracy around the world with their unilateralist reflexes. For example, antiliberal leaders’ attacks on the media have contributed to increasing polarization of the press, including political control over state broadcasters, and to growing physical threats against journalists in their countries. At the same time, such attacks have provided cover for authoritarian leaders abroad, who now commonly cry “fake news” when squelching critical coverage.

...The gravity of the threat to global freedom requires the United States to shore up and expand its alliances with fellow democracies and deepen its own commitment to the values they share. Only a united front among the world’s democratic nations—and a defense of democracy as a universal right rather than the historical inheritance of a few Western societies—can roll back the world’s current authoritarian and antiliberal trends. By contrast, a withdrawal of the United States from global engagement on behalf of democracy, and a shift to transactional or mercenary relations with allies and rivals alike, will only accelerate the decline of democratic norms.
The report, linked above, contains an interactive map of freedom across the world in 2019. A non-interactive version is reproduced below.

The interactive map is much more useful because it ranks countries by score. The free countries, shown in green, vary considerably. Canada gets a 99/100. The US a mere 86, barely better than authoritarian Poland. The yellow countries are "partially free" and they include most of the illiberal democracies from Hungary to Israel


Northern PoV said...

Folks living in the 'green countries' are luxuriating in Huxley's'
Brave New World ...

while the poor saps elsewhere have to live inside Orwell's

Anonymous said...

Clearly propaganda. All the empires bugaboos show up as not free, of course, while any organization actually concerned with promoting democracy finding the u.s. any better than partially free speaks volumes. Venezuela is an excellent measure of credibility as well, as there are few more democratic nations.

Toby said...

While I agree in general with that report, Mound, I suspect an American bias. Take for example, Venezuela. Freedom House reports "President Nicolás Maduro was reelected in May, in a poll that failed to meet minimum international standards and was widely condemned as illegitimate." reports, "Former President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center has a Democracy Program, said, “As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.”

Who is right? Are there other problems?

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Anon 8:32. Your criticisms reflect your own deep-seated biases. You should have visited the interactive map which demonstrates relative scores for countries in each of the three categories. The US, while green, does not score well against most other nations in that group. I find your take fairly shallow and sadly obvious.

The Mound of Sound said...

There's a great disagreement on Venezuela, Toby. Most people seem to latch onto the side that suits their predisposition. I cannot find enough information to determine which side is right.

Anonymous said...

authoritarian Poland?

The democracy there is much more vibrant than in USA with paid-for-Congress.
And Poland has a form of proportional representation unlike in "democratic" Canada.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon 2:14 - put this in your pipe and smoke it. I could flood this page with links.

Anonymous said...

Since I do not smoke, I can only use foreign policy articles as a kindling.
Also, do not flood the page with links to the western propaganda, flood it with the facts.
The garbage sub-title "Central Europe’s populist revolt against the EU isn’t about safeguarding the West. It’s about rolling back freedoms and cozying up to Russia" of the link you have supplied, says it all.
The fact is that Poles will be last people on Earth to cozy up to Russia, their brutal occupier in 18-th and 19-th century, and a country which coordinated attack on them in 1939 with Nazis.

While we are dealing with facts, feel free to address issues of paid-for-Congress in US and FPTP in Canada. None of which exist in the current Poland.