Freedom House reckons that 2013 was the eighth consecutive year in which global freedom declined, and that its forward march peaked around the beginning of the century.Between 19 the cause of democracy experienced only a few setbacks, but since 2000 there have been many.
The collapse of the Soviet Union created many fledgling democracies in central Europe.
By 2000 Freedom House, an American think-tank, classified 120 countries, or 63% of the world total, as democracies.
Yet these days the exhilaration generated by events like those in Kiev is mixed with anxiety, for a troubling pattern has repeated itself in capital after capital. Regime-sanctioned thugs try to fight back but lose their nerve in the face of popular intransigence and global news coverage.
The world applauds the collapse of the regime and offers to help build a democracy.
THE protesters who have overturned the politics of Ukraine have many aspirations for their country.
Their placards called for closer relations with the European Union (EU), an end to Russian intervention in Ukraine’s politics and the establishment of a clean government to replace the kleptocracy of President Viktor Yanukovych. Democracies are on average richer than non-democracies, are less likely to go to war and have a better record of fighting corruption.
Even in established democracies, flaws in the system have become worryingly visible and disillusion with politics is rife.
Yet just a few years ago democracy looked as though it would dominate the world.
Representatives of more than 100 countries gathered at the World Forum on Democracy in Warsaw that year to proclaim that “the will of the people” was “the basis of the authority of government”.
A report issued by America’s State Department declared that having seen off “failed experiments” with authoritarian and totalitarian forms of government, “it seems that now, at long last, democracy is triumphant.”Such hubris was surely understandable after such a run of successes.