Varieties of Democracy
Defiance in the Face of Autocratization – DEMOCRACY REPORT 2023
06 • 03 • 2023

We are pleased to present the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute’s seventh annual Democracy Report 2023: Defiance in the Face of Autocratization. Readers of the report will recognize some of the ongoing challenges democracies face but also observe new cases where agents have reclaimed democracy and
stopped negative trends.

The first section of the report shows global levels of democracy sliding back and advances made over the past 35 years diminishing. Most of the drastic changes have taken place within the last ten years, while there are large regional variations in relation to the levels of democracy people experience. The second section offers analyses on the geographies and population sizes of democratizing and autocratizing countries. In the third section we focus on the countries undergoing autocratization, and on the indicators deteriorating the most, including in relation to media censorship, repression of civil society organizations, and academic
freedom. While disinformation, polarization, and autocratization reinforce each other, democracies reduce the spread of disinformation. This is a sign of hope, of better times ahead. And this is precisely the message carried forward in the fourth section, where we switch our focus to examples of countries that managed to push back and where democracy resurfaces again. Scattered over the world, these success stories share common elements that may bear implications for international democracy support and protection efforts. The final section of this year’s report offers a new perspective on shifting global balances of economic and
trade power as a result of autocratization.

Over the past year, V-Dem has expanded on existing collaborations and entered new ones. A new initiative is in partnership with colleagues at the University of Glasgow to produce the Varieties of Indoctrination (V-Indoc) dataset, focusing on the politicization of education and the media. Since 2019, V-Dem has been hosting Demscore, a newly established (inter)national infrastructure bringing together some of the world’s leading contextual research infrastructures and databases. We have also been busy updating our website and launching the V-Party Explorer, a new graphic tool that gives access to data on political parties. Finally, the Democracy Report will be published in Spanish for the first time this year. It coincides with the launch of a new Regional Center for Latin America, led by Professor David Altman, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. The Spanish edition will come out a couple of months after the English version is launched.

Varieties of Democracy is an international collaboration involving almost 4,000 scholars from over 180 countries. Including the tremendous support and contributions of Country Experts, Country Coordinators, Regional Managers, and Project Managers. Without all of them, V-Dem would not be possible. The new version 13 of the V-Dem dataset contains 31 million data points and covers 202 countries from 1789 to 2022. We invite you to
visit, download the data and try out the innovative graphing tools.

V-Dem Institute is hosted at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg. It serves as the headquarters for the international V-Dem project, but we also pursue independent projects. The Democracy Report is one such endeavor. We hope that you will find it useful.

Finally, we are increasingly aware that the knowledge we produce is relevant to non-academic audiences. V-Dem’s data and analyses from the V-Dem Institute feeds into numerous international and regional policy processes, independent policy initiatives, consultations, and program evaluations. To boost the V-dem Institute’s policy-related work, we have recruited a policy analyst: Evie Papada.

Varieties of Democracy
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