FREEDOM IN THE WORLD 2021 – Democracy under Siege
Written by Sarah Repucci, Amy Slipowitz
March 2021 :: 35 pages
As a lethal pandemic, economic and physical insecurity, and violent conflict ravaged the world, democracy’s defenders sustained heavy new losses in their struggle against authoritarian foes, shifting the international balance in favor of tyranny.
New Report: The global decline in democracy has accelerated
Press release March 3, 2021
Freedom in the World 2021 finds that the annual gap between losses and gains widened in 2020, and fewer than a fifth of the world’s people now live in fully Free countries.
Washington – March 3, 2021 — Authoritarian actors grew bolder during 2020 as major democracies turned inward, contributing to the 15th consecutive year of decline in global freedom, according to Freedom in the World 2021, the annual country-by-country assessment of political rights and civil liberties released today by Freedom House.
The report found that the share of countries designated Not Free has reached its highest level since the deterioration of democracy began in 2006, and that countries with declines in political rights and civil liberties outnumbered those with gains by the largest margin recorded during the 15-year period. The report downgraded the freedom scores of 73 countries, representing 75 percent of the global population. Those affected include not just authoritarian states like China, Belarus, and Venezuela, but also troubled democracies like the United States and India.
In one of the year’s most significant developments, India’s status changed from Free to Partly Free, meaning less than 20 percent of the world’s people now live in a Free country—the smallest proportion since 1995…
…“Our report concludes that democracy today is beleaguered but not defeated,” said Abramowitz. “Its adversaries have grown more powerful, making the world a more hostile environment for self-government, but its enduring appeal among ordinary people—which we’ve already seen this year in places like Russia and Myanmar—bode well for the future of freedom.”
:: The 2021 edition of Freedom in the World, covering the events of 2020, marked the 15th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. Of the 195 independent countries assessed by the report, 73 experienced aggregate score declines and just 28 made gains, the widest margin of its kind during the 15-year period. There are now 54 Not Free countries, accounting for 38 percent of the world’s population, the highest share since the decline began.
:: With India’s downgrade from Free to Partly Free, less than 20 percent of the global population now lives in a Free country, the lowest level since 1995.
:: The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the democratic decline. Some 42 score declines across 36 countries and territories were linked to the health crisis.
:: Beacons of democratic hope are being extinguished. Freedom House noted 39 countries and territories that experienced major prodemocracy protests in 2019. Of these, 23 (nearly 60 percent) suffered a net score decline in 2020.
:: The United States, which remained Free, fell by three points in 2020, for a total decline of 11 points on the report’s 100-point scale over the last decade.