V-Dem Annual Democracy Report 2019


Democracy in decline in more countries than ever before

This year’s Democracy Report is titled “Democracy Facing Global Challenges”. Democratic declines now affect more countries than ever before. Still, most democracies remain resilient despite challenges such as the financial crises and the rampant spread of fake news on social media. Yet, we show that government manipulation of the media, weakening of civil society, the rule of law and even elections is increasing.

There are also some positive stories to report from 2018. Central Asia recorded its first ever peaceful handover of power from one democratically elected leader to another in Kyrgyzstan. In Malaysia, an autocrat surprisingly lost in the elections despite electoral manipulation – showing that even in autocratic settings, elections can be a force for change. Pro-democratic movements have also mobilized masses of people across the globe in 2018 and 2019, for instance in Algeria, Armenia, Slovakia, and Sudan.

Main findings: 

  • The trend of autocratization continues, and almost one-third of the world’s population lives in countries undergoing autocratization – a substantial decline of democracy.
  • 24 countries are now severely affected by what is established as a “third wave of autocratization”. These countries include Brazil, India, the United States, as well as several Eastern European countries.
  • A majority of countries in the world remains democratic. 
  • The first ever model forecasting autocratization identifies the top-10 most at-risk countries: Philippines, Fiji, Mali, Hungary, Guatemala, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Tanzania. This is an invitation for action by the policy and practitioner communities.

Download the report