'Backsliding Democracies' Now Include US

Group cites several factors, but the election fraud claim is the biggest
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 22, 2021 7:15 PM CST
US Debuts on List of Backsliding Democracies
A demonstrator and National Guard soldier state at each other during protests over the death of George Floyd on in June 2020 near the White House.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

The US has been experiencing a "visible deterioration" in its relationship with democracy since 2019, a think tank says. And the organization saw a "decline in the quality of freedom of association and assembly" during the protests after the killing of George Floyd last year. But "a historic turning point," says the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, arrived "when former president Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election results in the United States." For that, AFP reports, the US has earned a place for the first time on the global list of backsliding democracies.

"The United States is a high-performing democracy, and even improved its performance in indicators of impartial administration (corruption and predictable enforcement) in 2020," said Alexander Hudson, a co-author of the "State of Democracy" report. "However, the declines in civil liberties and checks on government indicate that there are serious problems with the fundamentals of democracy." International IDEA uses 50 years' worth of indicators to categorize about 160 countries according to their type of rule: authoritarian, hybrid, or democratic—whether they're solidly so or backsliding.

The group's secretary general sees the US influencing other nations, and not in a good way. "The violent contestation of the 2020 election without any evidence of fraud has been replicated, in different ways," Kevin Casas-Zamora said, "in places as diverse as Myanmar, Peru and Israel." In fact, one-fourth of the world's population now lives in a democratically backsliding nation, the report says. The group, which is based in Stockholm, noted the irony of it all, per the Washington Post. "The United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself," the report said. (More democracy stories.)

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