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The Republicans now resemble illiberal authoritarian parties in Turkey and Hungary, study finds

The Republican party is moving in a very un-American direction and has been doing so for the last 14 years, according to the largest study of its kind.

The Republicans now resemble illiberal authoritarian parties in Turkey and Hungary, study finds
[Photo: Tia Dufour/The White House/Flickr]
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The Republican Party is moving in a very un-American direction and has been doing so for the last 14 years, according to a new study released by the Varieties of Democracy Institute at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

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The study found that since 2004, the Republican Party in America has adopted increasingly illiberal practices and moved closer to resembling authoritarian parties found in Turkey and Hungary. The Republicans’ move to illiberal authoritarianism rapidly accelerated after 2014, coinciding with the rise of Donald Trump and Trumpism within the GOP, and, as a result, the study notes, “It is now more similar to autocratic ruling parties such as the Turkish AKP, and Fidesz in Hungary than to typical center-right governing parties in democracies such as the Conservatives in the UK or CDU in Germany.”

The Varieties of Democracy Institute study is the largest of its kind. It looked at the rhetoric of 1,955 political parties across 1,560 elections in 169 countries between 1970-2019 in order to gauge “the extent of commitment to democratic norms that a party exhibits before an election.”

[Image: Lührmann et al./V-Dem Institute]
Depressingly, the study found that “the Republican Party in 2018 was far more illiberal than almost all other governing parties in democracies. Only very few governing parties in democracies in this millennium (15%) were considered more illiberal than the Republican Party in the U.S. Conversely, the Democratic Party was rated slightly less illiberal than the typical party in democracies.”

What’s even more worrying, the study showed that the median governing party in most democracies across the globe are becoming more illiberal—and, sadly, the Republicans are part of that trend. The study says that here “illiberal” refers to a “lower commitment to political pluralism” as well as the willingness to demonize “political opponents, disrespect for fundamental minority rights and encouragement of political violence.”

The good news? The Democratic Party in the U.S. has remained a liberal party over the same period that the Republicans moved toward illiberalism. Matter of fact, the study found that the Democrats are even slightly more liberal than the typical party in other democracies—something that would give the Founding Fathers a sigh of relief.

As a reminder, the most important election in American history is coming up in just eight days, and the candidates and their parties have wildly different visions for all sorts of things that will affect your life in the decades to come. So what direction do you want the country to go in? Let the world know with your vote.