NEW DELHI: The world used to be a lot less democratic in the 1970s and 1980s, however, the past decade has witnessed a relapse with a decline in the number of democracies across the world. A major shift reported in 2020 is India depreciating from a liberal democracy to an electoral autocracy.
However, the decline to an electoral autocracy is not exclusive to India and is rather part of a trend seen across the Asia-Pacific region, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Latin America, as per the 2021 democracy report titled “autocratization goes viral”.
The level of democracy enjoyed by the average global citizen in 2020 is down to levels last found around 1990, as per the report which is published by the V-Dem Institute.
India’s autocratization process has largely followed the typical pattern for countries in the “third wave” over the past ten years, said the V-Dem report.
India’s level of liberal democracy registered at 0.34 by the end of 2020 after a steep decline since its high at 0.57 in 2013.
That represents a 23-percentage point drop on the 0 to 1 Liberal Democracy Index (LDI) scale, making it one of the most dramatic shifts among all countries in the world over the past 10 years, alongside automatizing countries like Brazil, Hungary, and Turkey.
The latter two became (electoral) autocracies in 2018 and 2014 respectively, and India now joins their ranks.
Autocracies home to 68% world population
With India—home to 1.37 billion people—becoming an electoral autocracy, now 68 per cent of the world’s population lives in electoral and closed autocracies, as per the report.
This reflects an accelerating wave of autocratization engulfing 25 nations that hold 1/3 of the world’s population – 2.6 billion people.
Several G20 nations such as Brazil, India, Turkey, and the United States of America are part of this drift. Other populous, influential states such as Bangladesh, Hungary, the Philippines, and Tanzania belong to this group of autocracies, as does Hong Kong.
Poland takes a dubious “lead” as the country which declined the most during the last decade and three new nations join as major autocratizers: Benin, Bolivia, and Mauritius.
Meanwhile, 14 per cent of the world population continues to live in liberal democracies but the number has declined from 41 countries in 2010 to 32 in 2020.
On the other hand, electoral democracies now account for 60 nations and the remaining 19 per cent of the population.
Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute is said to produce the largest global dataset on democracy with almost 30 million data points for 202 countries from 1789 to 2020.