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Ear to the Ground

People Are Less Free for the 8th Straight Year, Report Finds

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Posted on Jan 24, 2014

  Countries in green are considered “free,” yellow is “partly free,” and those in purple are considered “not free.” Graphic from Freedom House.

Freedom House has released its annual report on authoritarianism and found that people around the world are less free than they were a year ago.

The NGO has come to the same conclusion eight years in a row.

Here are some takeaways from the 2014 report (which looks back on 2013):

Findings of the 41st edition of Freedom in the World, the oldest, most authoritative report of democracy and human rights, include: 

  • Fifty-four countries showed overall declines in political rights and civil liberties, compared with 40 that showed gains.
  • For the eighth consecutive year, Freedom in the World recorded more declines in democracy worldwide than gains.
  • Some leaders effectively relied on “modern authoritarianism,” crippling their political opposition without annihilating it, and flouting the rule of law while maintaining a veneer of order, legitimacy, and prosperity.
  • Central to modern authoritarians is the capture of institutions that undergird political pluralism. They seek to dominate not only the executive and legislative branches, but also the media, judiciary, civil society, economy, and security forces.

There were some positive signs for the year: 

  • Civil liberties improved in Tunisia, the most promising of the Arab Spring countries.
  • Pakistan showed gains due to successful elections and an orderly rotation of power.
  • In Africa, gains occurred in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Madagascar, Rwanda, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
  • The addition of Honduras, Kenya, Nepal, and Pakistan raised the number of electoral democracies to 122.

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