Democracy is at risk. Its survival is endangered by a perfect storm of threats, both from within and from a rising tide of authoritarianism. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated these threats through the imposition of states of emergency, the spread of disinformation, and crackdowns on independent media and freedom of expression. The Global State of Democracy 2021 shows that more countries than ever are suffering from ‘democratic erosion’ (decline in democratic quality), including in established democracies.

Yet, the pandemic has also evinced democracy’s resilience in many ways. It has fuelled pro-democracy movements to challenge this authoritarian tide from Belarus to Myanmar. Protests over climate change and racial inequality have gone global, despite restrictions on assembly in most countries during the pandemic. Many states have adhered to democratic principles during the public health crisis, thanks to transparent and innovative governance.

This Report provides lessons and recommendations that governments, political and civic actors, and international democracy assistance providers should consider in order to counter the concerning trends in the erosion of democracy, and to foster its resilience and deepening.

International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy Reports review the state of democracy around the world. Access the digital version to download PDFs or read online.

The 2021 edition covers developments in 2020 and 2021, with democratic trends since 2015 used as a contextual reference. This report has a global focus, and it is accompanied by four regional reports that provide more in-depth analysis of trends and developments in Africa and the Middle East; the Americas; Asia and the Pacific; and Europe. It is also accompanied by three thematic papers that allow more in-depth analysis and recommendations on how to manage electoral processes and emergency law responses, and how democracies and non-democracies fared based on lessons learned from the pandemic. The reports draw on data from the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) Indices and lessons learned from International IDEA’s on-the ground technical assistance to understand the current democracy landscape. The 2021 reports also draw heavily on data collected by International IDEA’s Global Monitor of Covid-19’s Impact on Democracy and Human Rights.

A summary of global and regional key facts and findings is available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.


Publication date
22 November 2021
Number of pages
978-91-7671-478-2 (PDF)
978-91-7671-479-9 (Print)






About the report

1. Key facts and findings

2. Democracy health check: An overview of global trends

3. Representative Government

4. Fundamental Rights

5. Checks on Government

6. Impartial Administration

7. Participatory Engagement

8. Conclusion: The future of democracy and lessons for future crises

9. Policy recommendations


About International IDEA

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The Global State of Democracy 2021

Building Resilience in a Pandemic Era
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