Democracy at a crossroads, according to new International IDEA report

15 November 2017 | STOCKHOLM – Global democracy is at a crossroads and continuous actions must be taken to safeguard and protect it, according to the first edition of The Global State of Democracy publication from The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), which launches today. The report finds that the world has experienced continued and steep democratic progress, however this progress has slowed down over the past decade, with challenges and threats emerging in specific countries and regions.

International IDEA’s The Global State of Democracy publication, based on the new Global State of Democracy indices, highlights that almost all aspects of democracy have advanced over the past four decades:

  • Most electoral democracies established in this period survived, and the number and proportion of countries holding elections have increased.
  • Governments are now more representative of (and responsive to) their constituencies, more countries respect the fundamental rights of their citizens, and social rights and equality feature sharp improvements.
  • More importantly, governments are more constrained by checks from parliaments, the judiciary and the media.
  • In addition, according to International IDEA’s analysis, the value people give to democracy is strengthened when democratic backsliding occurs. The most difficult aspects for democracies to tackle are corruption and rule of law, which have not improved since 1975.

“We see the challenges to our democracy in our daily news. There are cases of national leaders attempting to retain power beyond constitutional limits, attacks on human rights, the rollback of civil liberties and freedom of the press, and the rise of populism.”, said Yves Leterme, International IDEA Secretary-General “International IDEA is concerned about the rise of challenges to democracy. Our role—every citizen’s role—is to protect democracy.”

The first edition of The Global State of Democracy publication analyses and assesses emerging challenges and threats. It is based on a new set of indices that collect data on key attributes of democracy across 155 countries from 1975 to 2015. The starting point of 1975 coincides with the ratification of the United Nations Conventions on Civil and Political Rights as well as Economic and Social Rights and the so-called ‘Third Wave of Democracy’. Zooming-in on some of the most pressing crises for democracy today, the publication provides insights into the future of political parties and representation, corruption and money in politics, inequality, migration, and post-conflict peacebuilding. The publication provides actionable recommendations for citizens, politicians and technocrats worldwide in their efforts to combat these threats.


Notes to editors:

Global Launch in Stockholm

Press are invited to attend the launch of The Global State of Democracy - which takes place 09:30-17:30 on 15 November at the Stockholm City Conference Centre, Norra Latin. The event will be attended by representatives from Swedish civil society – with contributions from Margot Wallström, Ulrika Modéer, Jan Eliasson and our Secretary-General Yves Leterme, among others.

The full agenda of the day can be downloaded from our website.


The Global State of Democracy publication

The Global State of Democracy is a biennial publication analysing and assessing the state of democracy around the world based on data from the Global State of Democracy indices. The publication includes an overview of global and regional democracy trends and developments, current challenges and crises, as well as evidence-based and actionable recommendations for policy makers and democracy practitioners worldwide.

The publication will be available in English, both in print and online. An overview of the publication will be available in English, Spanish, French and Arabic. Explore publication’s website and the Global State of Democracy indices to learn more about the quality of democracy, comparing countries and regions.

Media Contact: Raul Cordenillo,, Tel: +46 8 698 37 75

Programme Contact: Nathalie Ebead,

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. International IDEA’s mission is to support sustainable democratic change by providing comparative knowledge, and assisting in democratic reform, and influencing policies and politics. International IDEA produces comparative knowledge in its key areas of expertise: electoral processes, constitution-building, and political participation and representation, as well as democracy as it relates to gender, diversity, and conflict and security. For more information, visit