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Expand chart

The global erosion of democracy has continued for a 15th consecutive year, according to an annual report from Freedom House.

Zoom in: The report calls particular attention to India, which slipped from “free” to “partly free” due to the government's “scapegoating of Muslims” and “crackdown on critics.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, according to the report, “driving India itself toward authoritarianism.”

What's happening: Governments in several countries used the cover of the pandemic to consolidate control.

  • In the Philippines and Cambodia, authorities cracked down on critical news outlets and social media users in the name of preventing misinformation.
  • In Algeria, the government used coronavirus restrictions as a justification to suppress a protest movement.
  • Perhaps the most disheartening aspects of the report include places like Belarus, Hong Kong and Venezuela where pro-democracy movements rose up in the last two years — only to be met by deeper repression.

Go deeper

Mar 4, 2021 - World

32 of 47 Hong Kong activists denied bail after charges under national security law

Some of the 47 Hong Kong opposition activists boarding a Correctional Service Department van at Lai Chi Kok Reception Center. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

32 out of 47 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists charged for "conspiracy of subversion" under the new national security law were denied bail on Thursday after four days of marathon court hearings.

Why it matters: The charges against the activists were part of the biggest crackdown yet against the pro-democracy movement since Beijing's draconian national security law was enacted last summer, per AP.

Journalists face record levels of persecution globally

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Around the world, journalists are being targeted at record levels by despots, eager to silence the press.

Why it matters: Experts worry that the United States' wavering stance on press freedoms over the past few years may have empowered autocrats looking to gain power and undermine democracy by going after journalists.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Political consultants pocket taxpayer cash

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Members of Congress are turning to the same political consultants who got them elected to blast out taxpayer-funded communications from their government offices, records show.

Why it matters: While those members are barred from politicking with official funds, the firms have expertise in boosting elected officials' images for political gain and are in high demand for both campaign and government work.