A new report on global freedom finds that democracy could be approaching a “turning point” for improvement.
Democracy declined around the world for the 17th consecutive year, but the pace of that decline has slowed and we could be approaching a “turning point,” according to an annual report from Freedom House.
The rise of authoritarianism and the erosion of democracy have been among the most notable global trends of the past decade.
The “Freedom in the World 2023” report suggests those trends continued in 2022. But the latest report also finds a bit of optimism.
“The gap between the numbers of countries that improved and declined was the narrowest it has ever been since the negative pattern began,” the report said.
Thirty-five countries saw a worsening in their political rights and civil liberties last year, but 34 countries experienced an improvement.
By comparison, in 2020, 73 countries saw declines, while 28 saw improvements.
“This latest edition documents a continuation of troubling trends, but it also gives some reason to hope that the freedom recession of the past 17 years may be turning a corner. There is nothing inevitable about authoritarian expansion. While authoritarian regimes remain extremely dangerous, they are not unbeatable,” said Freedom House President Michael Abramowitz.
The report scores countries on the political and civil rights of their citizens and categorizes them as “free,” “partly free” or “not free.”
Researchers evaluate a country’s freedom based on 10 political rights and 15 civil liberty indicators. They measure everything from the health of the electoral process, political pluralism, and freedom of expression to freedom of association and the rule of law.
The United States’ overall rating, sitting at 83 points out of a possible 100, did not change this year. The U.S. gained a point in political rights, due to last year’s largely peaceful midterm elections, but lost a point in civil liberties due to increased restrictions on access to abortion.
The freest countries in the world are Finland, Norway, and Sweden, with 100 points each. The least-free countries include South Sudan and Syria, with one point each.