UNDER THE PANDEMIC
Attacks on democratic freedoms accelerated under the pandemic, as many states took the opportunity to bring in restrictions that were not required to fight the virus but extended state powers and reduced the space for accountability, dialogue and dissent. Meanwhile the year’s numerous elections offered some opportunities to express dissent and demand something different, with rare changes of government coming in the Dominican Republic and Seychelles, and a change coming after civil society forced a rerun of a flawed election in Malawi. In New Zealand and South Korea, effective pandemic performance saw incumbents rewarded. But too often elections offered only an empty ceremony of democracy and confirmed long-running presidential power, not least in Belarus, Uganda and across an array of West African states. Divisive and polarising far-right politics were resisted in the USA but continued their march across Europe, including in Poland, Serbia and Slovenia. People defied repressive state power to demand democracy in Lebanon, Myanmar and Thailand, among others, and civil society worked everywhere to keep democratic freedoms alive.