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Freedom House Says Democracy in US Has Weakened

2019-2-5

Freedom House says that democracy in the United States has weakened a lot in the past few years. It blames U.S. President Donald Trump for “ongoing attacks on the rule of law, fact-based journalism, and other…norms of democracy.”

The U.S.-based group said it has noted similar changes in other nations where democracy was destroyed and replaced by authoritarianism.

“The greatest danger comes from the fact that American democracy is not infinitely durable,” said Michael Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. He was reacting to the group’s yearly report on democracy, which was released Tuesday.

The report said the freedom rating for the United States shows that the country remains a strong democracy by international norms. Yet it says American democracy has weakened a lot.

It says the current U.S. rating puts American democracy on a level with Greece, Croatia and Mongolia. The U.S. was well below other western democracies, such as Germany, France and Britain.

FILE - A Trump supporter holds a T-shirt reading
FILE - A Trump supporter holds a T-shirt reading "You Are Fake News" before a rally by President Donald Trump in Rochester, Minn., Oct. 4, 2018. Freedom House says that democracy in the U.S. weakened significantly and partly blames U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Freedom House report said that 68 countries experienced a drop in political rights and civil liberties during 2018, with only 50 having gains. It said this was the 13th consecutive year of declining freedom rates worldwide.

Freedom House noted two countries with sharp drops in democracy in 2018 – Hungary and Nicaragua.

Hungary fell from a "Free" to "Partly Free" rating. The report said that Prime Minister Viktor Orban brought “the most dramatic decline ever charted by Freedom House within the European Union.”

It added that Nicaragua dropped to "Not Free" status as a result of Nicaraguan officials launching a campaign against an anti-government protest movement.

The report also named several other countries with declines. They include China, where over one million ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs and Hui were forced into re-education centers. Freedom House also named Cameroon, where Paul Biya has served as president for more than 30 years.

Of the 195 countries named in the report, 86 (44 percent) were rated Free, 59 (30 percent) Partly Free, and 50 (26 percent) Not Free.

The countries with the worst freedom rating were Syria, South Sudan, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea. Those with the best ratings were Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands.

Freedom House said the countries that made notable improvements in their freedom rating in 2018 included Armenia, Ethiopia and Iraq.

I’m Susan Shand.

VOANews.com reported this story. Susan Shand adapted the story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.

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Words in This Story

journalism – n. the gathering and presentation of news stories through the media

norm – n. a model or average

authoritarianism – n. expecting or requiring people to obey rules or laws; not permitting personal freedom

infinite – adj. to go on forever, without end

durable – adj. staying strong and in good condition over a long period of time

decline –n. the process of becoming worse in condition or quality

consecutive – adj. following one after the other in a series

chart – v. to note the changes, progress