Special Forum

Around the globe, democracy is ailing. In the past 15 years or so, an increasing number of democracies worldwide have suffered from gradual erosion and decay. According to the most recent Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) report,1 examples can be found in most regions of the world including the United States and the European Union, where Hungary’s Victor Orbán used the pandemic as an excuse to establish Europe’s first “corona dictatorship.” The global erosion of democracy preceded the COVID-19 pandemic, but its outbreak is accelerating the dynamics of democratic regression. As governments around the world fight the spread of the coronavirus, the number of countries in which democratic leaders acquire emergency powers and autocrats step up repression is rapidly increasing. The uneven performance of many democracies in containing the pandemic and mitigating its public health effects rekindles debates about the effectiveness of democratic rule compared to authoritarian regimes.

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