The Global State of Democracy


This Overview examines the global state of democracy and the challenges to democracies posed by today’s political landscape. It is a condensed version of The Global State of Democracy: Exploring Democracy’s Resilience, which explores key current challenges to democracy and the enabling conditions for its resilience.

The contemporary political landscape poses complex global challenges to democracies. The landscape is shaped by globalization, geopolitical power shifts, changing roles and structures of (supra)national organizations and institutions, and the rise in modern communications technologies. Transnational phenomena such as migration and climate change influence the dynamics of conflict and development, citizenship and state sovereignty. Rising inequalities, and the social polarization and exclusion they generate, skew political representation and voice, reducing the vital moderate centre of the electorate.

Democracy is increasingly challenged from within, for instance by political leaders unwilling to respect election results or hand over power peacefully. This can lead to democratic backsliding. Voter apathy and distrust of traditional political institutions—particularly political parties and politicians—have led citizens to seek alternative paths of political dialogue and engagement, supported by new technologies. Big money in politics, and its ability to capture the state and facilitate corruption, undermines the integrity of political systems. Countries in democratic transition and those affected by conflict are particularly vulnerable in their efforts to create stable democratic societies. These dynamics have contributed to a widely contested view that democracy is in decline.

Democracy under pressure and resilient responses

"Is democracy really in trouble, or is this just a temporary downward fluctuation?"

Explore the data

The Global State of Democracy indices website allows you to explore and compare country, regional and global democratic trends across a broad range of attributes and subattributes of democracy in the period 1975–2015.

Visit The Global State of Democracy Indices website