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Democracy backsliding across the world amid pandemic, report says

A demonstrator holds a mock-up of a gallows as he take part in a rally held by Austria's far-right Freedom Party FPOe against the measures taken to curb the coronavirus pandemic, at Maria Theresien Platz square in Vienna, Austria on November 20, 2021 (Joe Klamar / AFP)
A demonstrator holds a mock-up of a gallows as he take part in a rally held by Austria's far-right Freedom Party FPOe against the measures taken to curb the coronavirus pandemic, at Maria Theresien Platz square in Vienna, Austria on November 20, 2021 (Joe Klamar / AFP)

Democracy is deteriorating across the world, with countries notably taking undemocratic and unnecessary actions to contain the coronavirus pandemic, an intergovernmental body says in its new report Monday.

“Many democratic governments are backsliding,” the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, or International IDEA, says.

The 34-nation organization adds that as of August 2021, 64% of countries have taken an action to curb the pandemic that it considers “disproportionate, unnecessary or illegal.”

The Swedish-based body adds that the situation is also getting worse in countries that are not democratic. Autocratic regimes have become “even more brazen in their repression,” free speech has been restricted and the rule of law has been weakened, it says.

In its flagship report on the state of democracy, International IDEA says the number of backsliding democracies has doubled in the past decade, and mentioned in particular the United States, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia.

“This is the time for democracies to be bold, to innovate and revitalize themselves,” International IDEA Secretary-General Kevin Casas-Zamora says in a statement.

The report says that “the two years since our last report have not been good for democracy,” and the achievement reached when democracy became the predominant form of governance “now hangs in the balance like never before.”

“Overall, the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction in 2020 outnumbered those going in a democratic direction,” the report says, adding that in the past two years, the world has lost at least four democracies, “either through flawed elections or military coups.”

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