Apr. 23, 2024 |

Year of the ballot. As of April 19, the world’s biggest election is underway as voters in India start going to the polls. It’s an election that, over the next six weeks, about 970 million people—more than 12 percent of the world’s population—are eligible to vote in.

The contest is meanwhile just one of some 80 local and national elections scheduled for this year. Altogether, more than half the global population will able to vote in them. And both represent record numbers in human history.

In January, Steven Levitsky examined what the context of these elections show about the state of democracy worldwide. Most strikingly, to Levitsky: Despite the global rise of a populist right with autocratic tendencies, economic modernization has helped cultivate strong civil societies in recent decades—which have helped see to it, in turn, that very few democratic countries have become stable autocracies.

It might not always be apparent in the news, but for all the challenges it’s facing, democracy is proving remarkably resilient.