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Yet these days the exhilaration generated by events like those in Kiev is mixed with anxiety, for a troubling pattern has repeated itself in capital after capital. Regime-sanctioned thugs try to fight back but lose their nerve in the face of popular intransigence and global news coverage.The world applauds the collapse of the regime and offers to help build a democracy.
The new regime stumbles, the economy flounders and the country finds itself in a state at least as bad as it was before.The progress seen in the late 20th century has stalled in the 21st.Even though around 40% of the world’s population, more people than ever before, live in countries that will hold free and fair elections this year, democracy’s global advance has come to a halt, and may even have gone into reverse.Faith in democracy flares up in moments of triumph, such as the overthrow of unpopular regimes in Cairo or Kiev, only to sputter out once again.Outside the West, democracy often advances only to collapse.And within the West, democracy has too often become associated with debt and dysfunction at home and overreach abroad.Democracy has always had its critics, but now old doubts are being treated with renewed respect as the weaknesses of democracy in its Western strongholds, and the fragility of its influence elsewhere, have become increasingly apparent. THE two main reasons are the financial crisis of 2007-08 and the rise of China.The crisis turned the Washington consensus into a term of reproach across the emerging world.Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party has broken the democratic world’s monopoly on economic progress.Freedom House reckons that 2013 was the eighth consecutive year in which global freedom declined, and that its forward march peaked around the beginning of the century.Between 19 the cause of democracy experienced only a few setbacks, but since 2000 there have been many.