The key findings from the most recent update to the Global State of Democracy (GSoD) Indices data are as follows.

  • The global expansion of democracy has come to a halt in the past decade.
  • The number of countries experiencing democratic decline is now greater than the number experiencing democratic gains, breaking a trend that stretches back to 1980.
  • The highest declines are linked to aspects relating to civic space.
  • Regions with a concentration of so-called established or high-performing democracies (e.g. in North America, Europe, and more recently in Latin America and the Caribbean) have experienced democratic declines in the last five years.
  • The democratic decline in established democracies has been gradual. The Global State of Democracy refers to this as ‘modern democratic backsliding’, which is characterized by democratically elected parties or leaders using legal means to weaken democracy from within.
  • This democratic decline is not necessarily characterized by a deterioration in the conduct of elections, but more often by a worsening situation with regard to respect for civil liberties, restrictions on civil society or the media.
  • Africa and Asia have continued to experience democratic expansion in the past five years, while other regions have seen declines. However, a large percentage of countries in Africa and Asia still have low levels of democratic performance.

In November 2017 International IDEA launched the first edition of a new biennial report, The Global State of Democracy. The report provided evidence-based analysis and data on the global and regional state of democracy.

This GSoD In Focus presents the main findings from the new GSoD Indices data, which now covers a total of 158 countries for the period 1975–2017. More detailed analyses of regional findings will be included in the second edition of The Global State of Democracy, which will be published in November 2019. 


Publication date
23 October 2018
Number of pages



1. Overview of the current democracy debate

2. Overview of the global and regional democracy landscape



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The Global State of Democracy: Key findings and new data

GSoD In Focus No. 2
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