COPENHAGEN (DANISH) -- Democracy is deteriorating around the world with countries taking undemocratic, unnecessary actions to control the coronavirus pandemic. This was according to Monday's report by an intergovernmental body.
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (or International IDEA) stated that "many democratic governments are going backwards".
The 34-nation group added that 64% of countries had taken action to stop the pandemic as of August 2021.
According to the Swedish-based body, the situation is worsening in non-democratic countries. It stated that autocratic regimes are "even more brazen" in their suppression, free speech has been limited and the rule of law has been weakened.
International IDEA's flagship report on the state and future of democracy stated that the number of democracies in decline has increased by twofold in the last decade. It specifically mentioned the United States of America, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia in its report.
International IDEA Secretary General Kevin Casas-Zamora stated in a statement that "This is the right time for democracies be bold, innovate and revitalize themselves."
According to the report, "the last two years have not been good for democracy" and that the accomplishment of democracy becoming the dominant form of governance "now hangs at the balance like never before."
"Overall, there was more countries moving in an authoritarian way in 2020 than those going in a democracy," the report stated. It also noted that the world had lost at least four democracies in the last two years, either through flawed elections or military coups.
The report, which was 80 pages long and is the work of an intergovernmental organization with the mission to promote democracy around the world, highlighted "the remarkable strength" of civic activism.
According to the report, protests and civic actions were witnessed in more than 80 countries during the pandemic, despite sometimes-severe government restrictions. Pro-democracy movements in Belarus, Cuba, Eswatini (previously known as Swaziland, Myanmar, and Sudan) have been repressed.
This report is ahead of the U.S. President Joe Biden’s virtual "summit to democracy" on Dec. 9-10, which aims at gathering government, civil and private sector leaders in what Biden describes as a global confrontation against rising autocratic forces.
International IDEA reported that in Asia, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, and Myanmar were affected by "a wave of growing authoritarianism." However, democratic erosion was also seen in India, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.
The report stated that China's influence and its deepening autocraticization also put at risk the legitimacy of the democratic system.
It stated that in Africa, democratic declines have "underminished remarkable progress made across Africa over the past 30 years." It also mentioned military coups in Chad and Mali, Guinea, Mali, and Sudan.
It was also reported that half of the Americas' democracies had suffered democratic erosion with notable declines in Bolivia and Brazil as well as El Salvador, El Salvador, Colombia, El Salvador, and the United States.
The pandemic in Europe "has put a strain on democracy" and countries where democracy was already at risk, which gave governments an excuse to weaken democracy even further. International IDEA stated that Europe's non-democratic governments, which included Russia, Belarus, Russia, and Turkey, have intensified their already repressive policies.
Sam Van Der Staak from Program Regional Europe, stated that the pandemic widened the already existing rift between Western European democracies performing well and their weaker counterparts in Central or Eastern Europe.
This divide will continue to threaten Europe's unity as it faces increased pressure from non-democratic superpowers. However, the increased democratic isolation of Europe also presents opportunities for greater integration as Europe must consider democracy's core foundational force.