Thursday, February 13, 2014

What is Backsliding from Democracy? - Return to Authoritarian Rule

Backsliding from democracy is experienced by nominally democratic countries world over. An early discussion about this phenomenon took place at the Seventh Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy, held in Lima, in October 2012. During the discussions the following four signs of backsliding were identified based on experiences from South East Europe:
  • "The first is a shrinking space for freedom, a process which creeps up and often goes unnoticed by the public. Decline of Freedom of expression, for example, often starts with self-censorship. Public information becomes increasingly incomplete, inaccurate and hard to access; consequently, the government stops letting people know what it is doing. 
  • Second, corruption becomes so widespread that citizens accept is as a norm. 
  • Thirdly, trust in institutions declines, as their legitimacy is replaced with legality. 
  • The final indicator is the selective application of justice, most poignantly illustrated in... selective prosecution of opposition leaders."
(I actually attended this discussion, and was impressed on how the speakers were able to concisely synthesize a very vast and confounding subject. The quote above is based on the transcript from the Seventh Assembly's bulletin.)

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