An Eighth Year of Decline in Political Rights and Civil Liberties
The state of freedom declined for the eighth consecutive year in 2013, according to Freedom in the World 2014, Freedom House’s annual country-by-country report on global political rights and civil liberties.
Particularly notable were developments in Egypt, which endured across-the-board reversals in its democratic institutions following a military coup. There were also serious setbacks to democratic rights in other large, politically influential countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Venezuela, and Indonesia.
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.
Worst of the Worst: Ten countries were given the lowest possible rating of 7 for both political rights and civil liberties.
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