Mar 22 2018

Turkey is biggest backslider on democracy - report

Turkey is the biggest backslider on democracy over the past two years as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repressive measures since a failed coup in 2016 involved “massive restriction of freedom of expression, the press and freedom of assembly”, the Financial Times said.

Citing a report by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a Germany-based think-tank, the FT said Turkey was a defective democracy along with Honduras, Hungary, Moldova, Niger and the Philippines.

“It is not so much the slight increase in the number of autocracies that is worrying,” Bertelsmann said. “More problematic is the fact that civil rights are being curtailed and the rule of law undermined in an increasing number of democracies as well.

“Former beacons of democratisation such as Brazil, Poland and Turkey are among the countries that have fallen the most.”

The quality of worldwide democracy and governance has fallen to its lowest level in 12 years, with much of the decline occurring in free societies where governments rule with an increasingly arbitrary hand, according to the study, the FT said.

Of 129 countries analysed, 71 are democracies and 58 are autocracies, Bertelsmann said. Its previous survey classified 74 countries as democracies and 55 as autocracies.

The study excluded the mature democracies of North America, Europe, Japan, Australia and elsewhere, the FT reported. Some 3.3 billion people live under autocratic political systems, the largest number since the group started its survey in 2006, while 4.2 billion people are estimated to live in democracies, it said.

Five countries — Bangladesh, Lebanon, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Uganda — no longer meet minimum standards of democracy, it said.

“These five new autocracies have crossed a threshold that the defective democracies of Honduras, Hungary, Moldova, Niger, the Philippines and Turkey are nearing, though to varying degrees,” the study says.

It judged that Poland, “though much further away, is inching its way downward”, according to the FT.

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