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International Study Finds US Republican Party Heading Towards Becoming One of World's Most Authoritarian Factions

"Disrespect of political opponents, the encouragement of violence, and also the violation of minority rights... they have all clearly increased with the Republican Party in recent years," said one of the lead authors.

U.S. President Donald Trump embraces Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the "Namaste Trump" rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, on February 24, 2020. (Photo: Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Republican Party has been moving in an increasingly regressive and autocratic direction for over a decade and now more closely resembles far-right ruling parties in Turkey, Hungary, and India than typical center-right parties in Western European democracies, a Swedish study published Monday has found. 

"Only very few governing parties in democracies in this millennium (15%) were considered more illiberal than the Republican Party in the U.S."
—V-Dem

In the largest study of its kind, researchers at the Varities of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute at the University of Gothenburg found that since 2004 the Republican Party has "retreated from upholding democratic norms" and is shifting in an increasingly authoritarian direction, especially since the ascension of President Donald Trump.

The study found that the GOP 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 U.K. or CDU in Germany."

Other parties which the Republicans' behavior resembles include the ruling BJP in India and PIS in Poland, according to the study. 

V-Dem researchers examined political discourse of 1,955 parties across 1,560 elections in 169 countries between 1970 and 2019 to determine "the extent of commitment to democratic norms that a party exhibits before an election."

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"The Republican Party in 2018 was far more illiberal than almost all other governing parties in democracies," they found. "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," the study stated. 

It's not just the Republicans who are moving toward authoritarianism. Right-wing parties in many countries are also becoming more illiberal and the median ruling party in the 169 nations is more authoritarian now than in 2004.

"What we see is that the disrespect of political opponents, the encouragement of violence, and also the violation of minority rights... they have all clearly increased with the Republican Party in recent years, since [Trump] came in the leadership but also before that," V-Dem deputy director Anna Luehrmann, one of the study's lead authors, told CNN.

"The disagreement is not any more just about policy," Luehrmann added. "We see that at least one political group seems to go by: 'Take all means necessary to achieve our policy goals.'" 

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