A recent report has listed the United States as a “backsliding” democracy, noting a “visible deterioration to democratic ideals that began back in 2019.”
The assessment was made by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA). This is the first time the U.S. has been labeled a “backsliding” democracy since the organization’s founding in 1995.
Although a number of factors led to IDEA placing the U.S. in that classification, the report notes that a “historic turning point came in 2020-21” after former President Donald Trump refused to accept his election loss to now-President Joe Biden.
“The visible deterioration of democracy in the United States, as seen in the increasing tendency to contest credible election results, the efforts to suppress participation (in elections), and the runaway polarisation … is one of the most concerning developments,” the report added.
The report also referenced government crackdowns on uprisings in response to the police killing of George Floyd, citing a “decline in the quality of freedom of association and assembly during the summer of protests in 2020.”
The United States is not a member state of the Stockholm-based organization.
Overall, IDEA identified just 98 democracies around the world, the lowest number the group has counted in several years. Forty-seven governments were authoritarian regimes, while 20 governments were hybrids of the two categories.
The organization said that the pandemic played a role in eroding democracy around the world.
“Many democratic governments are increasingly adopting authoritarian tactics, accentuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, while autocratic regimes are consolidating their power,” the group said.
“The number of backsliding democracies has doubled in the past decade, now accounting for a quarter of the world’s population,” IDEA added. “This includes established democracies such as the United States, but also EU Member States such as Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. More than two-thirds of the world’s population now live in backsliding democracies or autocratic regimes.”
The organization also noted that the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction in 2020 outnumbered those going in a democratic direction.
Some Biden administration officials have also recognized that democracy around the world has taken backward steps in recent years. Just last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested that there has been a “democratic recession,” candidly admitting to a group of human rights activists in Nairobi, Kenya, that the U.S. “is hardly immune from this challenge.”
“We’ve seen how fragile our own democracy can be,” Blinken said, referencing attempts to overturn the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.