Shrewsbury School

Salopian essay writer Highly Commended in National prize

Friday 25 June 2021

Many congratulations to Phoebe W (MSH, LVI) for being Highly Commended in the prestigious New College of the Humanities Essay Prize.

Phoebe's essay on 'Is Democracy Experiencing a Setback Worldwide?' explored vital contemporary issues such as the democratic 'deficit', contemporary American politics and the impact of COVID-19 on global ideologies.

Head of Academic Enrichment, Harry Mackridge, said: “Phoebe selected this title from a range of intellectually stimulating questions and was able to critically engage with a number of sources to reach her powerful conclusion. I hope you enjoy reading a snippet of Phoebe's essay as much as the judges evidently did!”


This essay will explore whether democracy, defined as a system of government in which the people have the ultimate authority through elections, has suffered a worldwide setback in recent years. Possible explanations for the argument of a decline in democracy include recent events in America and the impact of corona virus, as well as the development in technology in the last few years. The ‘Economist Intelligence Unit’s’ ‘Democracy Index’[1] assesses the level of democracy all over the world, based upon five categories: electoral processes and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture, and has been doing so since 2006. In 2019, this index found that, based upon these categories, the average level of global democracy has fallen to the lowest that has ever been recorded by the EIU, to a level of 5.44. This index clearly demonstrates that democracy has definitely experienced an overall setback worldwide.

Throughout all of this however, the resilience of democracy has in some ways been shown to be stronger than ever. Despite all the accusations against him, Joe Biden’s victory was approved by Congress the day after the violence, and his inauguration on the 20th of December does go to prove that, despite the assault by the president, democratic processes are strong and have been carried out successfully. Despite this positive result, events in America must be viewed as a setback in democracy, as such an extent of protest was seen against the result of a completely lawful process. As well as this, it should be viewed as a setback because, no matter the result of the election, events of 2020 highlighted how there are millions of people living in America who feel as though they do not experience the same opportunities or treatment as others, and this is a problem which has in no way been solved.


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