Democracy retreats. Larry Diamond, @HooverInst.

Oct 07, 2017, 12:00 AM

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Democracy retreats. Larry Diamond, @HooverInst.

"...The Democratic Recession: Breakdowns and Erosions The world has been in a mild but protracted democratic recession since about 2006. Beyond the lack of improvement or modest erosion of global levels of democracy and freedom, there have been several other causes for concern. First, there has been a significant and, in fact, accel- erating rate of democratic breakdown. Second, the quality or stability of democracy has been declining in a number of large and strategically im- portant emerging-market countries, which I call “swing states.” Third, authoritarianism has been deepening, including in big and strategically important countries. And fourth, the established democracies, beginning with the United States, increasingly seem to be performing poorly and to lack the will and self-confidence to promote democracy effectively abroad. I explore each of these in turn. First, let us look at rates of democratic breakdown. Between 1974 and the end of 2014, 29 percent of all the democracies in the world broke down (among non-Western democracies, the rate was 35 percent). In the first decade and a half of this new century, the failure rate (17.6 percent) has been substantially higher than in the preceding fifteen-year period (12.7 percent). Alternatively, if we break the third wave up into its four component decades, we see a rising incidence of democratic failure per decade since the mid-1980s. The rate of democratic failure, which had been 16 percent in the first decade of the third wave (1974–83), fell to 8 percent in the second decade (1984–93), but then climbed to 11 per- cent in the third decade (1994–2003), and most recently to 14 percent (2004–13). (If we include the three failures of 2014, the rate rises to over 16 percent.) Since 2000, I count 25 breakdowns of democracy in the world—not only through blatant military or executive coups, but also through subtle and incremental degradations of democratic rights and procedures that finally push a democratic system over the threshold into competitive au- thoritarianism (see Table). Some of these breakdowns occurred in quite low-quality democracies; yet in each case, a system of reasonably free and fair multiparty electoral competition was either displaced or de- graded to a point well below the minimal standards of democracy...."

http://www.journalofdemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Diamond-26-1_0.pdf