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Democracy Under Threat: A Global Snapshot

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Editorial

The state of democracy worldwide is alarming, as highlighted by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index for 2023. The report paints a picture of totalitarian regimes tightening their grip, hybrid regimes stagnating, and even established democracies struggling to maintain their footing. The most concerning trend is the rise of totalitarian regimes. Pakistan, for example, suffered a significant fall, dropping from a “hybrid regime” to an “authoritarian regime” due to its deteriorating human rights record and the growing influence of non-democratic forces. This shift reflects a worrying increase in global authoritarianism.

Even established democracies are facing challenges. The United States, despite its long history as a beacon of democracy, has been grappling with public disaffection, leading to support for populist figures like Donald Trump and policies that harm marginalized groups. The EIU has classified the US as a “flawed democracy” since 2016, and the future seems uncertain. Even regions with strong democratic institutions, like Western Europe, are not immune to threats. The rise of far-right, anti-immigrant parties shows that even established systems can face public disillusionment.

The EIU also highlights the failure of democracies to prevent wars. While wars typically occur in undemocratic countries, the global response to conflicts like the one in Gaza raises questions about the commitment of supposed democratic powers to upholding human rights and preventing aggression.

With almost half the world going to the polls in 2024, a glimmer of hope remains. Elections are crucial, but more is needed. Ultimately, democracy depends on responsiveness to the people’s will. When systems fail to represent their citizens, faith in democracy itself erodes. Elections were also held in Pakistan on 8 February 2024 amid allegations of manipulation and rigging. Then, there are serious allegations of rigging across the board, and it seems the in-coming governments will lack political legitimacy and authority. Thus, the indicators of a functional democracy will further weaken in Pakistan. 

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