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Global trend: Elected leaders making world less democratic

Hungarian President shaking hands with Russian President Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) greets Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) during their talks at the Kremlin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov via Getty Images

"Organizations that monitor the health of democracies are converging around a similar idea: On average, the world is becoming less democratic for the first time in several decades," Bloomberg's Lauren Leatherby and Mira Rojanasakul report.

Why it matters: "Would-be autocrats are taking note of the tools other leaders have implemented to tighten their grip on power. Emboldened leaders have contributed to the steep drop in democracy scores in many countries."

The details: "The surprising twist is that it’s happening as more and more countries hold elections," including places like Hungary and Poland.

  • The U.S. became less democratic between 2015 and 2017, "stemming primarily from weakening constraints on the executive," in the V-Dem Liberal Democracy Index, published at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
  • "In contrast to military coups or violent revolutions in the 20th century or the foreign invasions that toppled democracies ahead of World War II, most countries that are now experiencing a democratic decline have elected leaders."
  • "The integrity of those elections has been called into question at times, but citizens in many countries have gravitated toward these strongmen in the first place. And once elected, leaders keep up regular elections."

Go deeper: 2018: The year of the strongman

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