How Stable Are The World's Democracies? - "Warning Signs Are Flashing Red"

Tyler Durden's picture

How stable are the world's democracies?  While there is a certain level of complacency among the citizens of most developed countries in the security of their freedom, at least one Harvard historian sees some glaring warning signs.  Citing a "freedom index" compiled by Freedom House, Harvard historian Yascha Mounk notes that after rising steadily from the mid-1970s through the early 2000s, the number of countries globally that are considered "free" have been on a steady decline ever since.

Political scientists have a theory called “democratic consolidation,” which holds that once countries develop democratic institutions, a robust civil society and a certain level of wealth, their democracy is secure.


For decades, global events seemed to support that idea. Data from Freedom House, a watchdog organization that measures democracy and freedom around the world, shows that the number of countries classified as “free” rose steadily from the mid-1970s to the early 2000s. Many Latin American countries transitioned from military rule to democracy; after the end of the Cold War, much of Eastern Europe followed suit. And longstanding liberal democracies in North America, Western Europe and Australia seemed more secure than ever.


But since 2005, Freedom House’s index has shown a decline in global freedom each year. Is that a statistical anomaly, a result of a few random events in a relatively short period of time? Or does it indicate a meaningful pattern?

Freedom Index


In order to empirically test the stability the world's democracies, Mounk developed a 3-part test based on the openness of citizens to non-democratic rule and the rise and influence of "anti-establishment" parties within those countries. 

Mr. Mounk and Mr. Foa developed a three-factor formula to answer that question. Mr. Mounk thinks of it as an early-warning system, and it works something like a medical test: a way to detect that a democracy is ill before it develops full-blown symptoms.


The first factor was public support: How important do citizens think it is for their country to remain democratic? The second was public openness to nondemocratic forms of government, such as military rule. And the third factor was whether “antisystem parties and movements” — political parties and other major players whose core message is that the current system is illegitimate — were gaining support.


If support for democracy was falling while the other two measures were rising, the researchers marked that country “deconsolidating.” And they found that deconsolidation was the political equivalent of a low-grade fever that arrives the day before a full-blown case of the flu.

While we're all quite familiar with the rise of anti-establishment parties all over the world, the most startling takeaway from Mounk's research was, even for developed democracies like the U.S., the staggering percentage of millennials who were seemingly indifferent to living in a democratic society.  According to Mounk's research, while the majority of Americans born before 1960 felt it was "essential to live in a democracy," only around 25% of millennials held the same viewpoint. 

Across numerous countries, including Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, the percentage of people who say it is “essential” to live in a democracy has plummeted, and it is especially low among younger generations.


Support for autocratic alternatives is rising, too. Drawing on data from the European and World Values Surveys, the researchers found that the share of Americans who say that army rule would be a “good” or “very good” thing had risen to 1 in 6 in 2014, compared with 1 in 16 in 1995.


That trend is particularly strong among young people. For instance, in a previously published paper, the researchers calculated that 43 percent of older Americans believed it was illegitimate for the military to take over if the government were incompetent or failing to do its job, but only 19 percent of millennials agreed. The same generational divide showed up in Europe, where 53 percent of older people thought a military takeover would be illegitimate, while only 36 percent of millennials agreed.

Moreover, the indifference among millennials to democracy was consistent in countries all around the world.



Perhaps our precious snowflakes, who have all been so quick to lavish praise upon Fidel Castro, should spend a little time in Cuba to rediscover just how "essential" free and democratic societies are.

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wildbad's picture

Democracy is unstable by its nature in some respects. In others not so much.

Course changes and corrections must be expected as the evil ones change the tactics they use to undermine the common welfare.

If we look at the nature of the unequal enrichment patterns of the past several years the need for a course correction, if not a new boat, is clear to everyone except those profiting greatly from this subversion.

Land HO!

jeff montanye's picture

yes you are right.  the unequal enrichment of the past several years along with the deeply corrupt, increasingly authoritarian, and needlessly warlike nature of our civilian leaders/rulers makes "democracy" less attractive to, especially, the newer citizens.

president elect trump sounded like he realized it before the election.  i hope his actions afterward indicate he did.

Infocat's picture

The Trumpening is a direct result of the breakdown of social cohesion in the West.

Zero Point's picture

Why do people no longer believe it's essential to live in a democracy? Because they've never lived in one.

Infnordz's picture

Socialist Career Party Politics, including so called Conservatives, gradually erode democracy until there is little or no real democracy let, or rebellions occur near the end, like the Brexit and Trump wins.

I'm part of Generation X, but rarely vote (did for Brexit leave, result!), because my rare votes are often for less corrupt minority people against the more corrupt majority parties, so often pointless.

The US and UK should be a lot darker because this political erosion.

doctor10's picture

As soon as these Democracies are stable and prosperous the banking vultures move in-run up the debt by investing in socialist candidates-then clamp down on freedoms and move the political process toward totalitarianism-and then rape the populace to "get back their due"

lather, rinse ,repeat

HRH of Aquitaine's picture
HRH of Aquitaine (not verified) Nov 30, 2016 3:49 AM

Seriously Durdens? No live feed of the BOE presser? Lame.

Mass_hysteria's picture
Mass_hysteria (not verified) Nov 30, 2016 3:51 AM

democracy is a lie, always has been, a few controlling the masses, that's what it's always been about.

your vote doesn't count. unplug your bananas people, soceity as we know it is coming down.


and don't mention islam is about peace, i swear

AViewFromDublin's picture

Democracy in name only, it is just a word it means nothing. Whats democratic about having your country supplanted with rapacious low IQ'ed third world immigrants or having agovernment spying on you 24/7 or fightin wars on behalf of another nation namely Israel?


Thats not democracy thats fucking insanity.


BabaLooey's picture

Many of the Framers thought "Democracy" was the vilest form of government.

A Republic? OK. As Franklin said; "A REPUBLIC.....if you can keep it...." 

A Republic is representative government ruled by law (the Constitution). A democracy is direct government ruled by the majority (mob rule). A Republic recognizes the inalienable rights of individuals while democracies are only concerned with group wants or needs (the public good).


YuShun's picture

Good republics are ruled by constitutions, but not all are.
For over two thousand years, the basic distiction has been
that if a nation does not have a monarch, then it is a republic.

kellys_eye's picture

What's democracy when all election results return the same political aspirations despite the so-called 'party differences'?

The only parties that offer 'real change' are subject to the usual endless MSM degredation and lies - but are still rising in popularity.  There is hope yet.


sinbad2's picture

The key to Australian democracy is the seperation of powers,  legislative, executive and judicial.

The legislative branch, the politicians do not control the executive(public service) or the judiciary.

The American system where the politicians appoint the public servants and the judges would not be allowed in Australia.

The recent event where an ex President(Clinton) leaned on the senior law officer(Lynch) to pervert the course of justice would not be tolerated in Australia, both would have been in deep shit and Lynch would have been out of a job. But when a politician hires and fires the cops, the cops know their job is dependent on the good will of politicians, it's inherently corrupt.

The Judges are fiercely independent and interpret the law, not the wishes of politicians.

An example of this was when some Australian hackers hacked NASA, the US leaned on the Australian Government to create a law that made hacking illegal retrospectively. The politicians of course obliged their masters in Washington but the courts were outraged that the Government would create a law retrospectively, and let the offenders off. The same thing has occured in New Zealand where the FBI is trying to force its idea of justice on New Zealand in the Kim dot com case. As usual the politicians are obeying the US, but the Kiwi courts are upholding the law even though they are under considerable pressure from the Government, and probably covert pressure from American agencies.

Public servants are also mostly immune from the corrupt practices of politicians.

Joe A's picture

Ok, but you should compare that to what people that were born earlier thought when they had the age the millennials have now. I guess there is no such data. Young people have little life experience, are rebellious and usually have illusions about politics. That is why young people are so easy to mobilize and to fool into something. However, it could very well be that millennials are nowadays more prone to Castro style societies.

But if they are ready to give up their freedom in order to get security then they won't get either of them.

zombiefarmer's picture

This is nothing new this is just the end stage of a dying empire, takes about 250 years or so from birth to death or about 10 human generations, once the west is destroyed a new empire will rise then decline over and over again.

Victor999's picture

There are no democracies in the world.  Never have been.  Most of what we call democracies are in fact republics.  You elect someone to represent you.  The republican form of government is a democractic facade put over an oligarchic structure.  Republics were devised by the elite to make people think they had a real voice in government when in fact the elected representatives are captured by powerful special interests - those of the oligarchs.  The only leverage people have in this process is deciding which set of competing camps of oligarchs they wish to have lord it over them.  


The internet has provided the only defence the people have ever really had against the oligarchs as it funnels information to the people that they would not normally get through oligarchic-owned media outlets, and thus, serves to expose the lies.  This is a major threat to the ruling elite.

Direct Democracy's picture

Switzerland is the most democratic country in the world because their polical system is based on a "Direct Democracy" where only the people can approve, by referendum, any law or policy.  The vote is based on a double majority. In a representative democracy or republic, it is the elected officials that call the shots.  As we all know, politicians are self-serving, liars and corrupt, therefore that is why we are fucked until we change our political system to a direct democracy. 

Amun's picture

Ron Paul on Freedom House:


"How did this one-sided US funding in Ukraine come about? While I am afraid we may have seen only the tip of the iceberg, one part that we do know thus far is that the US government, through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), granted millions of dollars to the Poland-America-Ukraine Cooperation Initiative (PAUCI), which is administered by the US-based Freedom House.

PAUCI then sent US Government funds to numerous Ukrainian non-governmental organizations (NGOs). This would be bad enough and would in itself constitute meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. But, what is worse is that many of these grantee organizations in Ukraine are blatantly in favor of presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko.

Consider the Ukrainian NGO International Centre for Policy Studies. It is an organization funded by the US Government through PAUCI, but on its website you will find that the front page in the English section features a prominent orange ribbon, the symbol of Yushchenko’s party and movement. Reading further on, we discover that this NGO was founded by George Soros’s Open Society Institute."


Aussie V's picture

The trouble is the older people only know what they've been taught

(However, there is a small minority that have it together)

and the other problem is, the younger people only know what they've been taught by the dumber older people

Aussie V's picture

The trouble is the older people only know what they've been taught

(However, there is a small minority that have it together)

and the other problem is, the younger people only know what they've been taught by the dumber older people

WTFUD's picture

According to the map above i'm free. Who'd a node?

Overdrawn's picture

UK isn't a democracy, the Government is made up of 1,434 individuals, of which:

650 are Members of Parliament - out of that number, approximately 380 seats are 'safe seats', so it doesn't matter who the party select for them, they will win anyway.  This is where party faithful get rewarded.  So essentially, only 268 people are freely elected by the people.

763 Lords - 92 Lords are there because they have inherited their titles. 26 Lords get their titles due to their position in the Church of England.  The rest are appointed by the political parties, many Lords got their title for making political donations or doing favours for the political parties.

21 Royals - defined by having the HRH prefix. get position by birthright.

On average, every 4 years, 65% of the people vote to choose 45% of the Government.

Usually it takes 35% of the vote to win a majority Government.

So, the elected part of Government represents just 22.75% of the people. Which leaves 77.25% of people who didn't choose the Government in power.


Sandmann's picture

UK isn't a democracy,  TRUE !

It is run by Privy Council consisting of Front Bench MPs, Judges, Generals, Tony Blair.......

All Statutory Instruments run through Privy Council enacting EU Law, declaring War,


Then there are MPs who are Barristers in Court in the morning or acting as Recorders (Judges) neatly combining Legislature and Judiciary. There is the current bizarre sight of Judges suing the Minister at an Industrial Tribunal over pensions for judges !!!!!

Prince Charles is a Member of the House of Lords rather like the Veep is a Member of The Senate


Amun's picture
CIA’s Hidden Hand in ‘Democracy’ Groups


"Freedom House and the National Endowment for Democracy stress their commitment to freedom of thought and democracy, but both cooperated with a CIA-organized propaganda operation in the 1980s, according to documents released by Ronald Reagan’s presidential library.

One document showed senior Freedom House official Leo Cherne clearing a draft manuscript on political conditions in El Salvador with CIA Director William Casey and promising that Freedom House would make requested editorial “corrections and changes” – and even send over the editor for consultation with whomever Casey assigned to review the paper."

Amun's picture

"Freedom House, a propaganda machine created by Roosevelt to prepare the US public opinion for war, returned to the attack to stigmatize the Soviet field during the Cold War. At that time, it used western intellectuals, including French. Today, it organizes international media campaigns for religious freedom in China and for peace in Chechnya. Freedom House is currently presided over by James Woosley, former CIA Director."

 | 7 SEPTEMBER 2004

Resistance Is Hope's picture

Well done, I figured they were one of those fake news NGOs.

bogbeagle's picture



Honestly ... what the fuck has Democracy got to do with Freedom?

Amun's picture

"With regard to Freedom House, a United States-based NGO enjoying consultative status, the Permanent Representative of Cuba went on to say that the Committee had been dealing with that “so-called NGO” for several sessions after having received complaints from many delegations. ...

He said he was fully aware of the close and proven links between Freedom House and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under which the NGO carried out destabilization missions against legitimately-established governments.  Freedom House tried to sell the image of an NGO promoting democratic values while concealing the fact that it was a tool of subversion.  While he supported the positive and constructive contributions made by NGOs, he could not allow their image to be tarnished by a tiny minority of groups such as Freedom House. "

relaxtrading's picture

Democracy has nothing to do with freedom. Also, democracy has many, many faces. Nowadays, the only freedom you can get in this planet is if you get out of society, .


Batman11's picture

Neo-liberalism sowed the seeds for chaos and we have all got a ring side seat to watch its death throws.

The elites had a very bad plan for a New World Order, which is playing out as the rational might expect.

An ideology was rolled out across the world.

Liberal democracy was the bringing together of two mutually exclusive ideas.

Economic liberalism – that enriches the few and impoverishes the many.

Democracy – that requires the support of the majority.

Figures are available from the US that show its benefits rise exponentially as you get into the 1%, the 0.1%, the 0.01% and so on.

How was this supposed to work in a democracy?

From its first trial in Chile it could be seen that it enriched the few and impoverished the many.

It was never going to work in democracies.

Everyone started to notice this economics of the 1%.

It was never going to work in democracies.

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” Warren Buffett

How many people are in your class Warren?

It was never going to work in democracies.

It never did work in democracies and it was obvious from its first trial that this would be the case.

The elites still cling to their delusions; will someone put them out of their misery?

The elites try and maintain the disastrous neoliberal world they created as their disadvantaged electorate pull the rug out from beneath their feet.


Oleg the Man's picture
Oleg the Man (not verified) Nov 30, 2016 6:24 AM

Yeah, it seems democracy doesn't work. It destroys lives all over the world. Proof

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Slightly OT, but totally related...

TYLER, is Julian Assange alive and safe, or is he still missing?

Various sources indicate that

   A. Assange is missing

   B. Assange has been removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy and is in CIA custody in the US

   C. As a result of B, Wikileaks has been compromised and taken over by the CIA.

Resistance Is Hope's picture

First of all, it is a democratic republic, not a democracy. The elites love democracy because they got their tentacles deep inside the masses souls.

When democracy begins to equal feminist political correctness, homosexual "rights", gargantuan bureaucracies, war between the sexes, abortion, enough porn and legal/illegal drugs to make Hunter S. Thompson blush, when people party their way into debt slavery, and when the heroes of "democracy" cut their balls off and glue fake tits on and wear dresses like Bruce Jenner, well, yeah, no duh, democracy is going to be a lot less popular. The reasoning goes "How could anything that produces such decadence and evil be good?"

At this point, military dictatorship or dictatorship looks better than "democracy", because it probably is.

Something or someone needs to get the decadent people to be productive and decent, or else society will collapse into ruin and poverty, at which point democratic freedoms will not be worth the cost of living with massively reduced quality of life or, in Europes case, slavery under Islam. If the leftist virus continues spreading, dictatorship of some form would be the only way to preserve Western nations.

Sad to say, but true. The only alternative would be for the leftists to grow a pair, man up, grow up, and start being conservative and effective. I hope and pray that they choose to grow up.

Of course, it is actually the decadent and evil people and not democracy itself that are producing such decadence. Democracy is only as good as the sum of it's participants.

Which is why individual morality and responsibility are so foundational to any form of democracy. Which is also why Western civilization flourished and grew under Christianity, and is collapsing without her. Even if you don't personally believe in Christianity, you should pretend that you do so that you provide a good role model for others. Unlike  the left, we must be selfless to benefit society; by benefiting society, we benefit ourselves indirectly. Read in defense of Christendom

caesium's picture

Benedict XVI said the same thing at Regensburg. If you recall it was the NYT and the BBC who claimed he insulted Islam but the opposite was true. The Pope was saying that democracy, as it evolved in the West, was essentially Christian in expression, and was (as Andy Jackson also said) dependent on a moral or Christian people. Therefore the neocon project of imposing a bastardized version of democracy on the Middle East was doomed to fail on not just one but on different levels. In fact, the bastardized version offered by Bush and Co. requires (ironically) an immoral and totally Godless people as a prerequisite which is simply unacceptable to Muslims. This is before we begin to discuss “purer”, more Christian forms of democracy which are themselves inimical to Islamic thought where God is seen as a distant figure and not incarnate or possessing a “horizontal” identity

fajensen's picture

Well, the only important thing for civilisation is to be against Islam. We beat Christianity a long time ago.

Decadence, homos, slutty wimmen, porn, debt, drugs are good because they are against Islamic values. Also, I like to have a lot of choice in my life; I can hardly claim I am a good person if there are no temptations to resist.

The failure comes when society in the end will not stand up against Islam like we once did to Christianity, then we are just replacing one kind of stupidity with a worse kind.

Currently, Fascists and Right-wing nationalists are the only political force against Islam. We can come back from those; been there / done that all over Europe.

We can not come back from year 700 thinking imposed onto society, this is very clear from just observing the middle east.

Therefore, Islam must be pushed back. Who does the work is much less important than that it gets done. Sooner, rather than later.

Nunyadambizness's picture

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams

I think John knew what he was talking about.

fajensen's picture

"""Perhaps our precious snowflakes, who have all been so quick to lavish praise upon Fidel Castro, should spend a little time in Cuba to rediscover just how "essential" free and democratic societies are."""

Or perhaps ... our precious leadership should stop making "free and democratic" societies so like any other 3'rd world shithole that one must wonder if "freedumb and demoncrancky" is worth defending?

After all, it is not bad people like Putin or Le Pen who gutted the welfare states, are running permanent wars in the Middle east, build the surveillance state and ruined pay & working conditions for the majority.

No, "Democracy" worked really hard on those things.

It's the Outcomes that Count, Sunshine.

With true fascist we get jobs, if we have wars it's to nick other peoples stuff, they pay us to narc out our neighbours and maybe parades even. More fun that Austerity for Eternity!

Democarcy better start earning it's keep!

BritBob's picture


Some countries maintain spurious sovereignty claims: Gibraltar - Some Relevant International Law:

So much for human and democratic rights.


the.ghost.of.22wmr's picture
the.ghost.of.22wmr (not verified) Nov 30, 2016 8:53 AM

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.

Sparehead's picture

Ya, sure, the EU is controlled by unelected bureaucrats which regularly ignores the will of the majority of its citizens. I didn’t bother to read past the map, because “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

GreatUncle's picture

Democracy is a fictional notion of freedom given to you by elites to chain you to them and then when they do things you don't like used to stop you killing them so they carry on.

Change the concept ... then it makes sense.

How much do elites have to spend to reign as rulers over the serfs.

If you spend to keep 51% or more happy then you get a larger number that turn out for you and mark a happy vote.

Less than 50%, well not quite revolution but not quite a democracy.

You can actually spend as little as 30% to be happy like in the UK with multiple parties reducing the winning line.

If you get to only 25% happy and near 75% pissed off you have power then you will have unseen revolution fermenting!

Money vanishing in the global economy and more nations are going to be less happy and the elites resort to less democratic means to keep power. Hence Trump's win was remarkable when the whole of the elite establishment don't want to pay for you to be happy.

They get "their money" back they just don't want to hand it to you to make the economy go round.

monad's picture

A Republic, if you can keep it. - BF

horseguards's picture

"essential" free and democratic societies" in comparison to Cuba? Sounds about right.

gregga777's picture

At the behest of the United States of America's Feral Gangster Government the public education sector and the Techers Unions have accomplished their goals of delegitimizing the foundations of the Republic of the United States of America.