Dec 30, 2019

The world is less free than a decade ago

Data: Freedom House; Map: Axios Visuals
Data: Freedom House; Map: Axios Visuals

A decade ago, Freedom House warned of an emerging trend: Freedom had declined around the world for three consecutive years after a prolonged period of democratization.

The state of play: That decline has continued every year since.

  • Countries like Indonesia, Hungary and Mali that were considered "free" in 2009 are now "partly free," while the likes of Nicaragua, Thailand, Turkey and Venezuela have joined the ranks of the "not free."

The big picture: The general trend is troubling.

  • Internet freedom is in decline around the world as governments increasingly use social media to monitor their citizens and spread disinformation. Countries from India to Iran to Zimbabwe shut down the internet this year to combat protests.
  • Press freedom is also under threat, with Hungary, Serbia, Israel and India singled out for worrying steps.

The other side: There have been some improvements, including Ivory Coast (now "partly free") and Senegal (now "free"), while Tunisia has climbed furthest ("not free" to "free") as the lone democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring.

  • Several countries have recently shown positive steps toward increased freedom, including Armenia, Malaysia, Ethiopia and Ecuador.

Go deeper: The decade of the very poor and super rich

Go deeper