About the report & its findings-
- The V-Dem Institute, led by Professor Staffan I. Lindberg, is an independent research institute and the Headquarters of the V-Dem project.
- The institute is based at the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
- V-Dem’s conceptual scheme takes into account not only the electoral dimension (free and fair elections) but also the liberal principle that a democracy must protect “individual and minority rights against both the tyranny of the state and the tyranny of the majority”.
- It has classified countries into four regime types based on their score in the Liberal Democratic Index (LDI): Liberal Democracy, Electoral Democracy, Electoral Autocracy, and Closed Autocracy.
- While Sweden topped the LDI index, other Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and Norway, along with Costa Rica and New Zealand make up the top five in liberal democracy rankings.
- It has found that autocratisation is spreading rapidly, with a record of 33 countries autocratising, resulting in 4 new autocracies: Chad, Guinea, Mali and Myanmar.
- While the number of liberal democracies stood at 42 in 2012, their number has shrunk to their lowest level in over 25 years, with just 34 countries and 13% of the world population living in liberal democracies.
- Closed autocracies, or dictatorships, rose from 25 to 30 between 2020 and 2021.
- While the world today has 89 democracies and 90 autocracies, electoral autocracy remains the most common regime type, followed by Electoral democracies.
- As per the report, one of the biggest drivers of autocratisation is “toxic polarisation” — defined as a phenomenon that erodes respect of counter-arguments and associated aspects of the deliberative component of democracy.
- The report identified “misinformation” as a key tool deployed by autocratising governments to sharpen polarization followed by repression of civil society and censorship of media.
- The freedom of expression declined in a record 35 countries in 2021.
Status of India-
- It has noted that India is one of the top ten ‘autocratisers’ in the world, the V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) report classifies India as an autocracy (‘electoral autocracy’) rather than a democracy.
- It is ranked 93rd on the liberal democracy index, out of 179 countries and figures in the “bottom 50%” of countries.
- It has slipped further down in the Electoral Democracy Index, to 100, and even lower in the Deliberative Component Index, at 102.
- In South Asia, India is ranked below Sri Lanka (88), Nepal (71), and Bhutan (65) and above Pakistan (117) in the LDI.
- The report notes that India is part of a broader global trend of an anti-plural political party driving a country’s autocratisation.