After nearly four decades of unrivaled expansion, democracies worldwide appear to be back on their heels. Authoritarian regimes, semi-authoritarian regimes, and new and fragile democracies are increasingly constricting civil and political rights, intensifying pressure on civil society and human-rights defenders, cracking down on independent media, appropriating the Internet and social media to propagate alternative truths and monitor critics, and broadening the powers and reach of internal security services, often under the guise of countering terrorism. According to Freedom House, in 2014, for the ninth year in a row, nearly twice as many countries experienced declines to civil liberties and political rights as registered gains.

Shannon N. Green