The V-Dem (Varieties of Democracy) Institute is an independent research institute based in Sweden which produces an annual report on the state of democracy in the world.
The 2021 report said that autocratization is the dominant trend in the world but that the demand for democracy remains high in many quarters. According to the report, countries moving toward autocratization outnumber advancing countries. “In North America, and Western and Eastern Europe, no country has advanced in democracy in the past 10 years while Hungary, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, and the United States of America have declined substantially”, it added.
The report said that Serbia is among the countries of Eastern Europe whose downward decline continues after continued assaults on the judiciary and restrictions on the media and civil society.
The report said that nine of the 10 countries which declined the most were electoral or liberal democracies in 2010. Serbia ranked 5th on that list of 10 countries. “The countries among the top 10 are the same identified last year’s Democracy Report. “While Hungary’s ongoing autocratization is still conspicuous, Poland has taken over the dubious first position since 2015. Turkey is still found in the very top group among the major decliners, closely followed by Brazil and Serbia”, it said.
“The commonalities in the way autocratization unfolds across these varying contexts is notable. Media and academic freedoms, and civil society, are typically repressed first. Alongside that, ruling governments often engage in polarization by official disinformation campaigns disseminated via social media and by increasing disrespect for counterarguments from political opponents. Only then are formal institutions such as the quality of elections undermined in a further step towards autocracy,” the report said and added that eight of the top 10 major autocratizers over the last ten years follow this pattern: Brazil, Bolivia, Hungary, India, Poland, Turkey, as well as Benin and Serbia, although the latter two show some more variation.
According to the report declining electoral integrity alongside deteriorating academic, civil society, and media freedoms that, among other things, contributed to the backsliding into authoritarianism by 2013. The quality of elections has been deteriorating since then and further worsened in 2020, when many opposition parties boycotted the parliamentary elections held amidst the pandemic,” the report said.