What we did: We developed and launched the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) Report for 2021.

What we achieved: Policymakers used GSoD to promote democracy and to influence policies, strategies and programmes. Media used it to inform the public about the state of democracy and to hold decision makers to account.

Impact area: Democracy Assessment

Boundary partners: Policymakers

Our flagship Global State of Democracy Report clearly illuminated the challenges to democracy that arose as governments across the world reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic. But it was a mixed picture.

On the one hand, there was a further global slide towards authoritarianism. Non-democratic regimes became even more brazen in their repression, while many democratic governments adopted restrictions on free speech and movement, weakening the rule of law.

By contrast, however, there were clear signs of democracy’s resilience. Pro-democracy movements braved repression around the world, and global social movements for tackling climate change and fighting racial inequalities emerged. More than three-quarters of all countries experienced protests during the pandemic.

The Report garnered huge media interest around the world, with its key message of ‘growing authoritarianism’ and was cited by US President Joe Biden in his address to open the Summit for Democracy from the White House.

The successful launch cemented the Report’s reputation—along with International IDEA’s—as an authoritative source on democracy worldwide. The message was picked up by foundations, diplomatic missions, international organizations and several ministries of foreign affairs.

  • Policymakers in Germany, Sweden and the United States used its analysis, recommendations and data to develop and implement strategies to defend democracy.
  • Members of the European Parliament showed their interest in and support for the Report.
  • More than 1,000 media outlets in more than 100 countries ran with the ‘growing authoritarianism’ theme, including The New York Times, The Guardian, South China Morning Post and The Hindu.
  • International IDEA staff have been interviewed on television channels from the BBC to CNN, Spanish national television to Sweden’s TV4.

The Global State of Democracy Report gathers analysis and data from 165 countries all over the world based on five attributes of democracy: Representative Government, Fundamental Rights, Checks on Government, Impartial Administration and Participatory Engagement. It provides stakeholders, including policymakers and civil society representatives, with an in-depth assessment of the global democracy landscape, with the aim of influencing and informing policy interventions.

As the pandemic continued to necessitate remote working, International IDEA delivered online presentations and training sessions to increase knowledge and capacity to support democracy and human rights for our network of universities, research centres and International IDEA’s Member States.

More than 1,500 young diplomats have directly or indirectly benefited from the Global State of Democracy programme and expressed satisfaction with the online training.

Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde participated and delivered a speech at the 2021 GSoD launch in Stockholm on 25 November 2021

‘IDEA provides first grade analyses on the global state of democracy, elections, political parties, gender and much more, and we highly value your expertise. IDEA’s important role as a convener and platform to discuss democracy is becoming increasingly clear . . . We also value IDEA’s important contribution ahead of the upcoming Summit for Democracy in December. Actors like IDEA are crucial in our joint endeavour to protect and defend, but also to promote democracy as the one form of government that can ensure equality, inclusion and sustainable development.’ — Ms Ann Linde, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sweden, November 2021'


Relevant links:
US President Joe Biden in a speech during the Summit for Democracy, 2021