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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Blowing Out the Moral Lights Around Us

From The Economist:
A DECADE has passed since Larry Diamond, a political scientist at Stanford University, put forward the idea of a global “democratic recession”. The tenth edition of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Indexsuggests that this unwelcome trend remains firmly in place. The index, which comprises 60 indicators across five broad categories—electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, democratic political culture and civil liberties—concludes that less than 5% of the world’s population currently lives in a “full democracy”. Nearly a third live under authoritarian rule, with a large share of those in China. Overall, 89 of the 167 countries assessed in 2017 received lower scores than they had the year before.
Declan Walsh at NYT:
The global tide is driven by a bewildering range of factors, including the surge of populism in Europe, waves of migration, and economic inequality. And leaders of countries like Egypt, which had long been sensitive to Washington’s influence, know they run little risk of rebuke from an American president who has largely abandoned the promotion of human rights and democracy in favor of his narrow “America First” agenda.

In Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for 33 years, has led a sweeping crackdown on opponents before elections this summer. In November, Mr. Trump flashed a big thumbs-up as he posed for a photo with Mr. Hun Sen, who later praised the American president for what he called his lack of interest in human rights.
In Honduras, President Juan Orlando Hern√°ndez was inaugurated for a second term on Saturday amid uproar from opposition figures who accused him of rigging the vote, and despite calls for a new election from the Organization of American States. Washington ignored the O.A.S. findings, with the American charg√© d’affaires offering only tepid statements calling on all sides to behave peacefully.
And the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, who was once forced to surrender power for four years to respect his Constitution, has barred the main opposition challenger in the March election, virtually assuring that he will win a fourth term. Mr. Trump has repeatedly expressed his desires for closer ties with Mr. Putin.
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