Is the world losing faith in democracy?

The Real Story

05-01-2024 • 48 mins

2024 will be the world’s biggest election year ever. From the United States to the UK, Taiwan to India, South Africa to Mexico, it’s estimated countries representing nearly half the world’s population will head to the polls in some form of election this year. But how much faith do people around the world still have in democracy?

In South Africa this year’s election will be a defining one. 40 years since a post-Apartheid electorate voted in Nelson Mandela, the nation is dogged by corruption and voter apathy with less than half expected to turn out. So are South Africans seeking an alternative to democracy and what might that be?

Meanwhile in India there are some concerns the world’s largest democracy is slipping into authoritarianism. Prime Minister Modi is a key player on the global stage with grand ambitions for India, but his premiership has been dogged by allegations of an anti-Muslim stance. So what does his continued popularity reveal about the state of democracy in a nation where over a billion people are eligible to vote in the general election?

In some Western nations too, there is a palpable dissatisfaction with democracy. In the US, former President Trump’s refusal to accept the 2020 election result led to the deadly attack on Congress – a sign for current leader Joe Biden that democracy is under threat, not just abroad but at home too.

So as we enter a record-breaking year for elections, is democracy itself on the line?

Shaun Ley is joined by:

Ziyanda Stuurman, senior analyst for Africa at the Eurasia Group think-tank. Debasish Roy Chowdhury is a journalist and co-author of the book 'To Kill A Democracy: India's Passage To Despotism'.

Lilliana Mason is associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and author of " Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity".

Also featuring:

Professor Steven Levitzsky from Harvard University in the US and author of 'How Democracies Die' Ben Ansell, Professor of Comparative Democratic Institutions at Nuffield College, Oxford University

Photo: Pro-Trump protesters wave banners outside the Capitol, Washington, January 6, 2021 Credit: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Produced by Pandita Lorenz and Max Horberry