More sore with democracy, but India a bright spot: Cambridge study
A new University of Cambridge report covering 154 countries over several decades finds that 2019 had the ‘the highest level of democratic discontent’ since 1995, but India and south Asia are among ‘bright spots’, where satisfaction with democratic governance is high.
The report released on Wednesday, marking the launch of the university’s Centre for the Future of Democracy, says that dissatisfaction with democratic politics among citizens of developed countries has increased from a third to half of all individuals over the last 25 years.
The report, the university says, is based on the largest international dataset on global attitudes to democracy ever made. It combines over 25 international survey projects covering 154 countries between 1995 and 2020, with some dating back as far as 1973, and includes new cross-country surveys commissioned from polling firm YouGov.
“Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India…each have a long experience with electoral institutions, which in the latter case has been unbroken barring two years of emergency rule in the 1970s. Satisfaction with democracy is also comparatively high across the region today”, the report says.
However, the report qualifies the satisfaction levels in India with less availability of data: “(Though) majorities in India have consistently expressed satisfaction with the country’s institutions, the data is sparse and there have been fluctuations over time”.
“On two ocassions – in 2013, a year before the landslide election of the BJP under Narendra Modi, and several years later, following a botched currency reform – dissatisfaction spiked at close to half of all respondents”.
“Nor do we yet have data on public opinion during the current period of protests and instability, which may prove to be a fresh dip of confidence in India’s democratic process”, it adds.
The research team says that the year 2019 represents the highest level of democratic discontent on record.
The report’s lead author, Roberto Foa, says: “Across the globe, democracy is in a state of malaise. We find that dissatisfaction with democracy has risen over time, and is reaching an all-time global high, in particular in developed countries”.