Democracy’s Retreats and Tentative Advances in 2015

By Carl Gershman

“It has been frequently said that democracy is in retreat around the world, and it’s not difficult to understand why so many people feel that way. Resurgent authoritarians in Russia, China, Iran and other countries are expanding their reach and influence. Political space for civil society is shrinking in scores of countries, as states pass increasingly repressive laws that restrict their citizens’ freedoms domestically as well as cut them off from international support.  

Democracy is backsliding in important countries like Turkey, Egypt, and Thailand, as well as in new EU member states like Hungary and Poland. Most worrisome of all, the United States and other advanced democracies are so overwhelmed by their own internal problems, including the rise of illiberal populism and the growing fear of terrorism, that they seem unable to muster a coherent response to the authoritarian challenge. Their passivity in the face of mounting international threats has emboldened the opponents of liberal democracy, which are rushing to fill the vacuums created by Western weakness and retreat.”

Read the complete World Affairs Journal article.