Democracy in Europe (1970-2020)

How has democracy fared in Europe over the past 50 years?


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Map of the 50 year change in democracy in Europe.

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Today, most European countries are a democracy. We might have grown accustomed to it in Europe, but it hasn’t always been like that. 50 years ago, about half of Europe was still living under an autocratic regime. In 2020, only three European countries are listed as non-democratic: Belarus, Russia and Turkey. Turkey is also the only country on this map that was a democracy in 1970 and isn’t a democracy in 2020.

Now of course this map only shows a snapshot of 2 points in time. It obviously isn’t that black and white. But what this map does, is showing us how things have changed in Europe. With this map, I want to show people that we shouldn’t take it for granted that most of us in Europe live in a democracy today. Only 50 years ago it was a completely different story. Countries like Portugal and Spain, that are stable democracies today, we’re under the rule of a dictatorial regime not that long ago.

Although the Boix-Miller-Rosato data only defines countries as either democratic or non-democratic, it does go back as far as 1800. The more detailed Democracy Index of the Economist only goes back to 2006.

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