Recession in democracy Vis-a -Vis Rise of Authoritarian elements
We have often heard the term ‘Recession' in economic aspects. Recession
generally means downgrading of certain things. Recession in democracy means
deliberate downgrading of democracy. As we all know Democracy is a form of
governments which is run by people through their elected representative and
having certain basic elements associated with this such as free and fair
election, freedom of press, transparency etc. It is one of the problem as to how
to define democracy as this form of government keeps on varying its elements in
Till 1974 only 30% of countries have met the criteria of electoral
democracy (46democracies), thereafter throughout 1975 to 2005 there had been
remarkable and unexpected durability of the democratic wave expect for the last
15 years where there has been many instances of breakdown in democratic set up
because of a decline in functioning and self confidence of the world's
established rich democracies and we have seen the rise of authoritarian form of
government across the globe. Since 2006, there has been no net expansion in the
number of electoral democracies.
Democratic recession (Breakdown)
Since 2005 there has been a mild democratic recession because of certain
- Stability of democracy has been declining in the number of countries
- Rise of Authoritarianism for e.g. Hugo Chavez (1999-2013). Venezuela
- Established democracies like the USA have been performing poorly in
Some of the major breakdowns of democracy
|Year of breakdown
||Reason for Breakdown
||Violation of rights, executive corruption
||Monarchial coup, political instability
|1958-1971. 1977-1988, 1999-2008
||Violation of opposition rights
These breakdowns have been achieved by a military coup, executive degradation
and corruption in the democratic setup of a country, and procedures that finally
pushes a democratic system into competitive authoritarianism set up.
Lately in last 10-15 years' views of the majority of people have changed too,
the majority of people have started voting for the leaders who bring some
authoritarian elements in the democratic setup. Countries like China and Russia
have been doing this for long. Russia led by Putin and china led by the
Communist Party of China have mixed authoritarian elements into their version of
democracy. Some scholars, political scientists don't even call these countries a
Authoritarianism is a form of government characterized by strong central power
and limited political freedom, not functionally opposite to democracy.
Some of the elements have set its roots across the globe, Majority of people
have started voting for those leaders who bring certain elements of
authoritarianism into democratic setup. Fully-fledged authoritarianism form of
government cannot survive for long but certain elements of an authoritarian form
of government mixed in the democratic set up are the new form of government that
is running across the globe.
This form of government has set its root in countries across the globe such as
developing countries like India, Brazil, South Africa and even developed
countries like the USA, the UK have a government which runs on this fusion form
of government. In view of the majority, these governments in their respective
countries are working fine.
Let's take the case of a developing country like India, Where in 2014 Majority
elected Narendra Modi as their Prime Minister, who has a created a government
which brings some of the elements of authoritarian elements in the democratic
The first instance of this happening in India was during the leadership of
former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who even imposed emergency in the National
emergency in the country and the fundamental rights were curtailed, media was
censored and opposition leaders were sent to jail for going against the
The present Government have not gone to those extreme levels but certain
elements of the authoritarian form of government has been mixed in the
democratic setup and the majority of the people are liking this set up in which
government is taking action against terrorists in Kashmir valley, action against
Pakistan sponsored terrorism.
Government has created a strong central power and that is why there have been
some instances where there has been a tussle between state and central
governments. Some restrictions have been put on all media house, which is a good
step because there is a limit of exercising the freedom to bring breaking and
sensational news. The view of the majority in this form of government can be
seen clearly by the fact that, Narendra Modi got reelected for the second term
in the year 2019.
Developed democracies like the USA and UK have also seen the shift in view of
the majority of the people. Leaders such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have
been elected by their respective countries shows that the majority of people
have started liking the form of government these leaders are running. Donald
Trump will be running for his election for the second term this year and Boris
Johnson who was made prime minister after Theresa May resigned, In September
2019 supreme court of UK ruled prorogation of parliament unlawful. Afterward,
election happened and Boris Johnson led the conservative party to its biggest
victory since 1987.
In countries like Brazil, South Africa, the majority have started shifting their
votes towards this fusion form of government.
There has been a clear shift in the mindset of voters especially when they see
governments of their respective countries controlling some hotshots, they feel
this is the right form of government they want to see, they have started
disliking certain basic principles of democracy.
This recession in democracy has given time to influx certain elements of
authoritarianism in a democratic setup and this recession is not happening in
some countries, it has been going on globally, in very corner of the world from
developed to developing and underdeveloped countries.
This fusion sort of the government may be on the rise for now but in coming
15-20 years, we will be able to see the downfall of it because as stated by
Larry diamond in his journal :
Democracy may be receding, somewhat receding in practice, but is still globally
ascendant in people's value and aspirations
Note: Source of statistics have been taken from a journal written by Larry
Diamond, Founder and co-editor of the Journal of democracy.