July 8, 2018

hISTORY eNDS EVERYWHERE:

Is democracy really in danger? The picture is not as dire as you think. (Daniel Treisman, June 19, 2018, Washington Post)

How serious are the challenges to democracy today? One way to assess this is to examine historical experience, using the best global data available. Doing this, I find a picture that -- although hardly inspiring -- is less dire than much commentary suggests.

Scholars use a number of ratings to classify countries' political systems. I examined four common ones -- those of Polity; Freedom House; Boix, Miller, Rosato; and VDEM. All code which states in a given year are democracies or, in Freedom House's case, "free" countries.

Far from suggesting a major retreat, all four sources show the global proportion of democracies at or near an all-time high.

For instance, Polity's measure -- which combines assessments of political competition, constraints on the executive, and openness of executive recruitment -- put the proportion of democracies in 2016 at 59 percent, up from 50 percent in 2000. Each of the other three was within 4 percent of its all-time peak.

Posted by at July 8, 2018 6:17 PM

  

« CONSCIENCE, THEY WONDERED: | Main | IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE: »