Countries that suffered setbacks in 2019 outnumbered those making gains by nearly two to one, marking the 14th consecutive year of deterioration in global freedom. During this period, 25 of the world’s 41 established democracies experienced net losses. The report also found an alarming global erosion in governments’ commitment to pluralism, a defining feature of liberal democracy. Ethnic, religious, and other minority groups have borne the brunt of recent state abuses in both democracies and authoritarian countries. Left unchecked, such violations threaten the freedom of entire societies.
The two most glaring examples are China, where the regime’s multiyear campaign of cultural annihilation against the Uighur minority and other predominantly Muslim groups has been well documented, and India, which earned the largest score decline among the world’s 25 most populous democracies in this year’s report. India has long been viewed as a potential democratic counterweight to authoritarian China in the Indo-Pacific region, but the current Indian government’s alarming departures from democratic norms are blurring the values-based distinction between Beijing and New Delhi.