Working with Graphs: Democracy Around the World

Democracy Around the World

This chart, titled "Number of countries by regime type, 2021," divides the nations of the world into four categories: closed autocracy, electoral autocracy, electoral democracy, and liberal democracy. These four categories represent a range of government control and individual political freedom.

In a closed autocracy the government holds absolute power, often through force or repression. The general public has no say in the government or political process.

Electoral autocracies are slightly less repressive. There, citizens have some degree of political freedom, such as the right to vote. However, the government or ruling party exerts significant control over the political process, often through manipulation of elections, suppression of opposition, or limitations on civil liberties.

In an electoral democracy, citizens have a significant degree of political freedom, including the right to vote and the ability to participate in the political process through campaigning or organizing. Still, the government or ruling party may influence the political process.

Finally, liberal democracies* offer the most extensive political freedoms and rights, including free and fair elections, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to participate in the political process without fear of retribution. The government is accountable to the people through regular elections and checks and balances on its power, often through the existence of an independent judiciary or other oversight mechanisms.

*Here, the word liberal means “in support of individual freedom”, not “the opposite of conservative” as it is typically used in American political debate.