17 Democratic States Facing Economic Struggle

Democracy gives the people the freedom to choose who they want to rule them, and it may also protect against human rights abuse. When it comes to economic disasters, however, the system is barely a safety net. Here are 17 countries that prove this.


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The major victims of the Russia-Ukraine war suffer both infrastructure and economic ruin. Ukraine lost 30% of its GDP in 2022—the year the war broke out. It has also suspended its debt repayment obligations, and the World Bank says Ukraine will need $411 billion to rebuild itself.


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Belarus is another country directly suffering from the Russia-Ukraine war, although we can say this is by choice. Standing by Russia, it has faced harsh economic penalties and boycotts from the EU. Now, it suffers a recession and a 4.7% drop in GDP.

El Salvador

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President Nayib Bukele and El Salvador face a debt crisis that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Although the country saw 2.3% economic growth in 2023, it still has unfulfilled Eurobond debts that its growing GDP can’t possibly cover. The country also faces immense insecurity, which dampens the prospects of true development.


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It’s hard for many to think of countries in the Middle East as democratic, but best believe, many of them, like Lebanon, are designed to be. Lebanon, due to financial mismanagement and corruption, has defaulted on debt payments since 2019. It also hasn’t had a president since 2022.


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The East African country suffers from an immense foreign exchange (FX) shortage and a budget deficit of $1.3 billion, as shared by Reuters. Malawi has become dependent on foreign aid and has struggled so badly that its central bank had to devalue the Kwacha by 44%.


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Argentina, a country you may have seen in the news lately, faces hyperinflation of 140%. It runs on a 10% budget deficit, and Reuters also says it’s currently in a $400 billion debt. Corruption is a major culprit for these issues.


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Tunisia has had to deal with drought, local inflation, and the general worldwide increase in food prices. As if these aren’t enough, its tourism industry has also been battered, and the culmination of these forced the country to seek an IMF loan—processes for which have also been stalled.


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For Ghana, there’s slowing economic growth, and this can be attributed to its overwhelming debt obligations. In 2023, the West African country used 40% of its already low public revenues to service international debt. This has ultimately forced it to seek a restructure of its debt framework.


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Pakistan has one of the youngest democratic systems around, and it also has one of the most distressed economies on the planet. The country faces intense political instability, and this has spiraled into delayed loan agreements with the IMF and a dangerously depleted foreign reserve.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

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The Congo faces internal strife that directly revolves around its economy. Nine-tenths of its economy depends on its mineral deposits, but armed militia groups currently battle the government over the control of mines. It isn’t hard to see why there’s food insecurity and also why economic stability can be hard to achieve.

Sri Lanka

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When it comes to Sri Lanka’s finances, there’s barely any good news. The country declared bankruptcy in 2022 and had up to $35 billion in debt as of September 2023. As the USIP reports, “Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948,” and its economic woes aren’t looking like they’ll end soon.


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Zambia’s economy depends on volatile industries like mining and agriculture, and, sadly, they haven’t been favorable to them. Falling copper prices, energy shortages, and debt obligations that are two times its GDP have thrown 60% of its population into poverty, as the Zambian Statistics Agency shows.


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Although there are claims that Egypt has been run in a rather authoritarian manner, its constitution still proclaims it to be democratic. Nonetheless, its tourism industry has suffered over the years, and the country now faces an inflation of food and energy products alongside a shortage of money to support its economy.


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Many describe Ecuador as a middle-income country, but its economy faces threats from an implosion. The World Bank explains this well. “In recent months, the economy has slowed substantially as structural challenges have worsened owing to increased insecurity caused by organized crime and political uncertainty.”


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In 2023, Kenya used a whopping 59% of its revenue from tax income to service its debt obligations alone. Since 2022, the East African country has also been struggling with high inflation, and its citizens now have poverty and high unemployment to deal with.


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USAID describes Nigeria as a country with structural economic issues owing to poor infrastructure and a limited foreign exchange capacity. Its 44% inflation is tipped to worsen by the IMF, and its currency faces rapid devaluation due to poor confidence in it.


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Somalia recorded a fall in its GDP growth in 2023, and its economic woes are attributed to lackluster governance, inter-ethnic rifts, and the constant onslaught of Al-Shabaab. Citizens also have healthcare and food crises tugging at their lives.

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