Freedom House said in its latest report that 54 countries showed overall declines in political rights and civil liberties, compared with 40 that showed gains.
“For the eighth consecutive year, Freedom in the World recorded more declines in democracy worldwide than gains,” Freedom House said.
Among the countries showing declines in freedom were Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Venezuela, and Indonesia, Egypt, South Sudan, Uganda, Azerbaijan and South Korea.
Leaders in some of those countries rely on “modern authoritarianism,” Freedom House said.
It’s a style of subversion that “cripples political opposition without annihilating it, and flouts the rule of law while maintaining a veneer of order, legitimacy, and prosperity.”
Modern authoritarians capture institutions “that undergird political pluralism. They seek to dominate not only the executive and legislative branches, but also the media, judiciary, civil society, economy, and security forces,” Freedom House said.
Most of the countries showing declines of freedom in 2014 are also laggards on the corruption perceptions index.
That’s predictable. Modern authoritarianism relies in part on graft to subvert democratic institutions and to buy support among powerful constituencies. Cronies of the crooked leader enjoy the fruits of corruption in return for supporting — or not opposing — the authoritarian regime. And graft further weakens the majorities — all those without the money needed to buy political influence.
On this year’s corruption perception index, Russia ranks 127 out of 178 countries, Ukraine 144, Azerbaijan 127, Turkey 53, Venezuela 160, Indonesia 114, Egypt 114, South Sudan 173, Uganda 140, Azerbaijan 127, and South Korea 46.
Richard L. Cassin is the Publisher and Editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.