Marc F. Plattner
For almost a decade, Freedom House’s annual survey has highlighted a decline in democracy in most regions of the globe. While some analysts draw upon this evidence to argue that the world has entered a “democratic recession,” others dispute this interpretation, emphasizing instead democracy’s success in maintaining the huge gains it made during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Discussion of this question now has moved beyond disputes about how many countries should be classified as democratic to embrace a host of wider concerns about the health of democracy: the poor economic and political performance of advanced democracies, the new self-confidence and assertiveness of a number of leading authoritarian countries, and a geopolitical weakening of democracies relative to these resurgent authoritarians. Marc Plattner will review this controversy and assess whether democracy is indeed in decline.