Democracy contains the seeds of its own recovery

Democracy contains the seeds of its own recovery

A global democratic recession need not go on forever

For all Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn this month’s election, American democracy never looked likely to buckle after polling day. Sure enough, on November 23rd, even as the president once again condemned “the most corrupt election in American history”, he agreed that the federal government should give Joe Biden the resources he needs to prepare for office.

Mr Trump has still done harm, as have the Republican leaders who indulged him (see article). Given that four in every five Republican voters say the vote was “stolen”, trust in the fairness of elections has been shaken and Mr Biden unjustly undermined from the very start. Henceforth in close votes routine jobs like counting and certifying votes will risk being part of the battleground. That is not a threat to the republic’s existence, but it does mark a further partisan deterioration in American democracy.

It is also part of a global democratic recession. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to a flourishing in the number and quality of liberal democracies, but the trend has now gone into reverse. Hungary and Poland are blocking the European Union budget because their governments refuse to bow to the rule of law (see article). Our briefing describes how in the world’s largest democracy the Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp) under Narendra Modi is capturing institutions, including the courts, the police and now, it is feared, the election commission. The Economist Intelligence Unit (eiu), our sister organisation, has been compiling a democracy index since 2006. Last year’s score was the worst ever. Covid-19 has accelerated the decline.