skip to Main Content

 

The past decade has been challenging for democracies worldwide, with experts pointing to a trend of ‘democratic backsliding’ or ‘autocratisation’ characterised by continued attacks on democratic space. The COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the picture. The contagiousness and deadliness of the virus forced authorities to implement drastic measures justified by overriding public health concerns. Yet, the crisis has also forced governments to tread a thin line between admissible health measures and the blatant abuse of emergency powers, to the detriment of democratic space.

Our new paper Repression and Resilience: Diagnosing Closing Space Mid-Pandemic illustrates how democratic space was affected by the COVID-19 crisis, drawing on case studies from Burundi, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya, Uganda and Venezuela, as well as the wider research community. The paper also further develops a conceptual framework for understanding democratic space, initially developed in a previous study.

The research points to the important role of country-specific political developments and other concurring crises in defining the impact of the global pandemic on each country’s democratic space. Across case studies and other literature, we find that the pandemic has aggravated and accelerated existing trends of democratic backsliding. Authorities have been hiding behind pandemic management to further clamp down on civic space, create an uneven level playing field and undermine the system of democratic checks and balances.

The paper first details the conceptual understanding of democratic space that underpins the research. The next chapter dives into structural trends in democratic space during the pandemic. The paper then moves on to take a closer look at the actors that defended democratic space during the pandemic. In conclusion, the paper offers some overall reflections and recommendations on what the pandemic means for practitioners, the EU and EU Member States’ policies and programming.

This research paper is the result of a close cooperation between the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy and the European Partnership for Democracy.

More news

Joint statement on Article 17 of the European Media Freedom Act
Joint statement on Article 17 of the European Media Freedom Act
Turning the page on 2022: 12 key moments for democracy this year
Enhancing social accountability in the Republic of Moldova through policy dialogue
Public letter to the Czech Minister of European Affairs and the EU Ministers of European Affairs on the Regulation of Political Adverstising
Reaction to the European Commission’s Proposal for a European Media Freedom Act
Youth Democracy cohort EPD
The voice of the 50%: EPD announces its co-leadership of the Youth Civic and Political Engagement Cohort of the Summit for Democracy
Exploring worldwide democratic innovations
Exploring Worldwide Democratic Innovations
EPD COnference 2022
Supporting democracy and improving coordination in a new era: takeaways from the European Partnership for Democracy Conference 2022
Club de Madrid Mission Cabo Verde
Djuntu pa Igualdadi! Fighting Gender-based Violence with a participatory approach
10 recommendations for a European response to the Ukraine invasion
Civil society recommendations for an ambitious rule of law report in 2022
EPD stands with Ukraine
Back To Top