The latest edition of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index ranks US among the pack of flawed democracies. A trust deficit causes the US to join the club in 2016. Flawed democracy is today’s dominant political regime in the world. There are only 19 full democracies and counting!
In 2016, populist and nationalist political forces made astonishing gains in democratic states, while authoritarian powers engaged in brazen acts of aggression, and grave atrocities went unanswered in war zones across two continents. Freedom House finds 2016 to mark the 11th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.
The EIU report raises a fundamental question: Are Brexit and Trump a triumph of democracy or a threat to it? The predominant response among political elites to the popular revolt against political elites in 2016 has been to interpret it as a threat to the future of liberal democracy. Yet the popular backlash can also be seen as a consequence, not a cause, of the failings of contemporary democracy.