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Mapped: 200 Years of Political Regimes, by Country

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Mapped: 200 Years of Political Regimes, by Country

Do civilians get a representative say in how the government is run where you live?

While it might seem like living with a basic level of democratic rights is the status quo, this is only true for 93 countries or territories today—the majority of the world does not enjoy these rights.

It also might surprise you that much of the progress towards democracy came as late as the mid-20th century. This interactive map from Our World in Data paints a comprehensive picture of democratic rights across the globe.

Which Countries Achieved Democracy First?

The three famous first words in the U.S. Constitution—“We The People…”—paved the way for the birth of a federal democratic republic in 1789. This makes the United States of America the world’s oldest uninterrupted democracy today.

That said, the classification system in the interactive map above provides a slightly different perspective. It draws from the Regimes of the World (RoW) classification and the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) project, and establishes four major classifications of political systems:

  1. Liberal Democracy
    Citizens have further individual and minority rights, are equal before the law, and the actions of the executive are constrained by the legislative and the courts.
    32 countries/territories in 2020
  2. Electoral Democracy
    Citizens have the right to participate in meaningful, free and fair, and multi-party elections.
    61 countries/territories in 2020
  3. Electoral Autocracy
    Citizens have the right to choose the chief executive and the legislature through multi-party elections; but they lack some freedoms, such as the freedoms of association or expression, that make the elections meaningful, free, and fair.
    64 countries/territories in 2020
  4. Closed Autocracy
    Citizens do not have the right to either choose the chief executive of the government or the legislature through multi-party elections.
    42 countries/territories in 2020

Under the classification system used here, it’s arguable that Switzerland was the first country to achieve a fully liberal democracy status in 1849, followed by Australia in 1858.

The Least Democratic Countries

Our World in Data also looks at how the global population breaks down by political regime.

The following chart demonstrates the share of the global population living under each type of regime since 1800, in relative or absolute terms.

While the global population has increased tremendously in 200 years, so has the number of civilians living under stricter political systems. Today, 1.9 billion people live in closed autocracies, of which nearly 75% live in China alone.

The major dip observed at the very end of the above chart comes from India. According to the data source, the nation flipped from electoral democracy to electoral autocracy status in 2019. As the second-most populous country, this change affected nearly 1.4 billion people.

Finally, while the data in the above maps and charts ends in 2020, notable events have taken place in recent months that may affect the number of people living in different political regimes.

The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-2021 caused the country to slide into closed autocracy status, and as the current conflict in Ukraine/Russia heats up, it’s possible that more people may find themselves living under non-democratic regimes going forward.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Politics

Charted: Satisfaction With Democracy, in 26 Countries

Satisfaction with democracy has declined in recent years, particularly in high-income nations.

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This graphic shows the percentages of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with democracy in 26 countries.

Global Satisfaction With Democracy

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Almost half of the world’s population resides in countries that held or will hold executive or legislative elections in 2024. This prompts a closer look at how people feel about the way democracy is working in their respective nations.

This graphic shows the percentage of the population that is satisfied or dissatisfied with democracy in 26 countries. The data comes from the Pew Research Center.

Methodology

In 2024, the Pew Research Center conducted over 900 interviews in each country via telephone or face-to-face.

Respondents were asked, “How satisfied are you with the way democracy is working in [survey country] – very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, not too satisfied, or not at all satisfied?” Those who did not answer are excluded. Percentages may not total 100% due to rounding.

Decline in Satisfaction with Democracy

Satisfaction with democracy has declined in recent years, particularly in high-income nations. In nine out of the 12 countries where this question has been asked consistently, satisfaction levels are lower today than in 2021.

CountrySatisfied (%)Dissatisfied (%)
🇺🇸 U.S.3168
🇨🇦 Canada5246
🇲🇽 Mexico5050
🇧🇷 Brazil4454
🇦🇷 Argentina4455
🇨🇱 Chile3066
🇨🇴 Colombia2177
🇵🇪 Peru1189
🇸🇪 Sweden7524
🇳🇱 Netherlands5841
🇵🇱 Poland5739
🇩🇪 Germany5545
🇭🇺 Hungary4950
🇬🇧 UK3960
🇫🇷 France3565
🇮🇹 Italy3067
🇪🇸 Spain3068
🇬🇷 Greece2278
🇸🇬 Singapore8019
🇮🇳 India7720
🇹🇭 Thailand6435
🇵🇭 Philippines5742
🇲🇾 Malaysia5149
🇱🇰 Sri Lanka3858
🇰🇷 South Korea3663
🇯🇵 Japan3167
🇦🇺 Australia6039

Notably, six countries have seen a double-digit drop in satisfaction: Canada, Germany, Greece, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Regional Differences

  • Europe: 75% of Swedes are satisfied with their democracy, compared to just 22% in Greece.
  • Asia-Pacific: More than three-quarters of Indians and Singaporeans are satisfied, whereas only 31% of Japanese are satisfied with their democracy.
  • Latin America: About two-thirds or more of Chileans, Colombians, and Peruvians express negative views about their democracies.

According to the Pew Research Center, satisfaction with democracy is strongly related to their perceptions of how the economy is performing. Additionally, views on the governing party also influence assessments of democracy.

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