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

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.