What are the Symptoms of Democratic Backsliding? 10 Signs

By the end of the twentieth century, democratic systems of government were effective in many parts of the world. That picture has changed a lot in the 21st century. According to political scientists, democracy is only nominally effective in many countries of the world.

What are the symptoms of democratic backsliding? While many countries do not have a direct military rule as in the 20th century, in many countries democratically elected governments are behaving like military dictators, observers say.

Many countries have full civilian governments, but there are many questions about how effective democracy is.

Even if a civilian government is in power in a country, there may not be democracy in that country. How do you know there is no democracy in a country?

What are the Symptoms of Democratic Backsliding?

Here are some important symptoms of democratic backsliding. Through these, it will be clear whether a country is in democratic backsliding or healthy democracy is being observed. Such as:-

What are the Symptoms of Democratic Backsliding?
What are the Symptoms of Democratic Backsliding?

1. Questionable Election

The key to democracy is elections. The election among the political scientists is the ‘lifeblood of democracy. It must be free, fair, and transparent. Its absence is the biggest answer to the question – what are the symptoms of democratic backsliding?

Political scientists are reluctant to call a country where elections are rigged a democratic system.

2. Dictators Also Elect

Regular elections are also held in countries where there is a civilian dictatorship. Because the ruling party continues to try to consolidate its power through so-called elections.

Now election fraud is not just about filling ballot boxes through fake votes, it has many facets.

Brian Class, a researcher at the London School of Economics, said that during elections, most dictators disqualify their opponents through various tactics.

3. Controlling the Population:

In a democracy, the predominance of public opinion is a big issue. Once a government is elected, it is not democratic.

According to political scientists, in the absence of democracy and the emergence of a dictatorship, public opinion is violently suppressed. As a result, the people lost the ability to protest against the government.

Yahya Akhter, a professor of political science at Chittagong University, replied the question – what are the symptoms of democratic backsliding? “There is a saying in political science called ‘civilian autocrat’ or ‘civilian dictator’.” “Many military rulers can be ashamed of the character of a democratic government,” he said.

4. Voter Turnout will Decrease:

In a country where there is no democracy, the ruling party regularly holds various elections, but the people have no confidence in those elections. Voters lose the motivation to vote. They do not want to go to the polls. This is a major obstacle to public administration.

5. Parliament will be One-party:

According to political scientists, when a country is on the verge of deviating from democracy, the ruling party has absolute dominance in the parliament. There is virtually no opposition party in Parliament.

6. Impact of Security Forces:

According to political scientists, if there is no democracy, the country’s security forces will be involved in various illegal activities.

This is because the ruling class uses the security forces as a means of political repression and oppression of the common people to stay in power.

7. Weak Organization:

According to Professor Yahya Akhtar, in order to establish democracy, some institutions have to be functional. Such as Election Commission, Parliament, Judiciary, etc.

Professor Akhtar said that if these institutions have political influence in a country and they are in a fragile state, then it must be understood that there is no democracy in that country.

8. Fear of Expression:

In the absence of a democratic environment, people are afraid to express their views freely. In that case, the media is also afraid to work independently.

The regime even wants to control the internet so that people cannot express their opinions there.

9. Rising Corruption:

Corruption is rampant in the dictatorship. This corruption is used to buy political opponents. Corruption in this system is so well-organized that it depends on a few individuals.

In exchange for being loyal to the ruler, they were given the opportunity to corrupt. As a result, they are richer.

If for any reason it is suspected that they are not loyal to the ruler, they are accused of corruption.

10. Fear of Losing Power:

Dictators are afraid of retirement. They think that after losing power an uncertain situation will be created. As a result, their political opponents may take revenge.


What are the symptoms of democratic backsliding? In finding the answer to this question, we can finally reach a conclusion. That is, challenges to democracy around the world mean a reform agenda that is not only important for their survival.

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