NEWS BRIEF In their private conversations, European and U.S. leaders express agreement in their view that authoritarian regimes across the globe are gaining strength and are, for the first time, strong enough to threaten liberal democracy.
That is the dramatic conclusion of a significant new report released Monday, which concluded that authoritarian leaders have now gained support from a wide swath of the global public. The report was produced by the United States Institute of Peace, the transnational network of think tanks, and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
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“It’s a picture of the world as it is,” Trina Ferris, who co-authored the report, told me. “There are no political surprises in the report.”
The report defines “authoritarian” as any government with control over an equal or greater percentage of power and decisions, and, most importantly, one that is weak in relation to democratic rule. The results were revealed in four methods the study used to gauge countries around the world: opinion surveys; follow-up surveys conducted after such surveys; academic research by world experts; and commentaries.
One of the biggest takeaways was a surge in “declining” democracy in recent years. It is the new face of the global change. People generally see that “democracy is on the decline,” which Ferris said is a “significant” finding. What has not been noted, she said, is that the decline of democracy is primarily driven by unrest—the populace is more engaged in complaining than complaining about the ruling government, she said.