In the mid-1970s, citizens across the world took to the streets to demand democracy from their governments, spurring a wave of democratization that transformed governments from Africa to Asia to Europe. But a concerning trend of democratic “backsliding” has taken place in recent years, writes the author of a new study in Science, as governments gradually shift away from their democratic ideals and slip closer toward authoritarianism.
Even leaders in well-established democracies, such as the United States and India, have adopted authoritarianlike rhetoric. But in other countries, such as Russia and China, leaders are actively working to undermine democracy’s legitimacy, the researcher says. Watch this video to understand the circumstances that pave the way for democratic backsliding—and how citizen movements and international support for democracy can play a role in defending it.