Donald Trump’s Republican party has become more illiberal and retreated from upholding democratic norms in recent years, a study has found, with its rhetoric shifting closer that of authoritarian parties ruling in Turkey, Hungary, Poland and India.
The research by Sweden-based V-Dem Institute highlights what it calls a “global trend” where “the median governing party in democracies has become more illiberal in recent decades”.
The study examined the extent of commitment to democratic norms that a party exhibits before an election, and found that more parties across the world are involved in the demonisation of political opponents, encouragement of political violence, disrespect for fundamental minority rights and lower commitment to political pluralism.
According to the study, in the last 20 years when “illiberal rhetoric" and "positioning on economic policy” is considered, the Republican Party has “not changed left-right placement but moved strongly in an illiberal direction.”
Researchers said the Republicans are now more similar to autocratic ruling parties such as the Turkish AKP and Fidesz in Hungary, than to typical centre-right governing parties in Western democracies such as the Conservatives in the UK or the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Germany.
“This rise of illiberalism is not like mere disagreement about policy issues. Lacking commitment to democratic norms signals a willingness to also erode these norms once in power,” said V-Dem’s deputy director Anna Luhrmann.
The study said over the last 20 years, the Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS), the Hungarian Fidesz Party, the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have themselves become “more and more illiberal” over time.
“By now, they fare close to the typical ruling party in autocracies in terms of illiberalism. Under their leadership, their countries have also [become] increasingly autocratic, with Hungary losing its status as democracy in 2018 and Turkey in 2014,” the study noted.