Restricted freedom of expression, a gagged press or disempowered constitutional courts – as a rule, these are characteristics of autocracies. But the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s latest Transformation Index shows that the rule of law and political freedoms are also being eroded in an increasing number of democracies. The main causes are abuse of power and cronyism, which increase economic inequality and contribute to social cleavages. The effects of the corona pandemic threaten to intensify these developments.
The number of people who are governed poorly and less democratically is increasing worldwide. For the sixth time in a row, the ratings of Bertelsmann Stiftung’s international Transformation Index (BTI) for the quality of democracy, market economy and governance have dropped, now to their lowest level since the BTI survey began. Since 2004, the index has assessed political and economic developments in developing and transition countries every two years. Of the 137 countries currently examined, the BTI classifies 74 as democracies and 63 as autocracies.
For the first time in the history of the index the Turkish state has been classified as an autocratic government. This is due to an increasingly repressive regime in Ankara which suppresses free speech, political expression and constitutional guarantees for minorities.