Serbia was one of the countries with the biggest declines in its democracy score, alongside Nicaragua, Tanzania and Venezuela, in this year’s edition of Freedom House’s annual ‘Freedom in the World’ report, which was published on Tuesday.
For the first time in over a decade, Serbia can no longer be described as ‘free’, according to the report. Hungary was also downgraded to ‘partly free’.
The report lists the reasons for Serbia’s decline as “election irregularities, legal harassment and smear campaigns against independent journalists, and President Aleksandar Vucic’s de facto accumulation of extraconstitutional powers”.
Montenegro, which is also considered ‘partly free’, was singled out for criticism in the report as well.
“President Milo Djukanovic of Montenegro continued to consolidate state power around himself and his clique, subverting basic standards of good governance and exceeding his assigned constitutional role,” the report says.
Separate country reports are not yet available, but in the Balkans, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania all maintained their ‘free’ status.
Macedonia and Kosovo showed minor improvements, Bosnia and Herzegovina showed a minor decline, while Albania maintained its ‘partly free’ status.
This year’s Freedom House report is titled ‘Democracy in Retreat’, with the authors emphasising that 2018 was the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.
“The reversal has spanned a variety of countries in every region, from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes like China and Russia,” the report says.
“The overall losses are still shallow compared with the gains of the late 20th century, but the pattern is consistent and ominous. Democracy is in retreat,” it adds.
Freedom House uses 25 indicators to rank countries on a 100-point scale for its annual report. These indicators include electoral processes, individual rights and the rule of law.