Global Protest Tracker

A one-stop source for following crucial trends in the most significant antigovernment protests worldwide since 2017. Last updated on July 28, 2020

About 100 significant antigovernment protests have erupted worldwide.
About 30 governments or leaders have fallen as a result.
8 out of 12 South American countries have experienced significant protests.
Some of the most violent government crackdowns against protesters have occurred in Iran, Iraq, and Nicaragua.

Use Carnegie’s Global Protest Tracker to analyze and compare the triggers, motivations, and other aspects of many of the most significant antigovernment protests since 2017. Designed for researchers, decisionmakers, and journalists, this comprehensive resource helps illustrate how protests impact today’s global politics.

Filters

Active

Ongoing protests only.

All protests

Resets the table to include all protests.

COVID-19

Protests related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. See the note under “Protest significance” on the “Limitations” tab.

Large

Protests with a peak size of 100,000 people or more.

Long

Protests with a duration of at least three months

Outcome

Protests that have resulted in a significant government policy or leadership change.

Violent

Protests that have experienced violent government crackdowns.

Key Terms

Duration

Time span between the first and last reports of the protests.

Freedom rating (Status)

Rating of a country in the Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World report at the time the protest started, reflecting the status of political rights and civil liberties in that country.

Key participants

Notable groups protesting, although not exhaustive.

Motivations

Systemic concerns that underlie the protest movement. To encapsulate a broad range of antigovernment grievances, the three overarching categories of motivations are economic, political, and corruption. Corruption is considered separately because it can be economic and/or political in nature and often stems from government officials’ conduct rather than government policies. These categories of motivations are not exclusive: protests are often driven by a diverse range of concerns.

Peak Size

Estimated peak number of protesters.

Outcomes

Reported near-term policy changes or leadership changes in response to the protests.

Protest name

Protests’ commonly used name, if any (for example, the Yellow Vest protests), or an abbreviated description of the protests.

Significant protests

Sizable street protests that express opposition to the national government as a whole or to its recent policies or actions.

Start date

When the protests are first reported in local or national news.

Triggers

Specific issue(s), event(s), or policy change(s) that sparked the protest.

Comprehensiveness

The tracker focuses on antigovernment protests. It excludes rallies in support of a political cause, party, or political figure.

Duration

Protests may be intermittent rather than constant, stopping and starting over weeks or months.

Outcomes

The tracker focuses on outcomes that are direct responses to the protests—specifically, policy or leadership changes that occur in the short term during or after a protest. As a result, it excludes events or changes that occur later, of which the protests may only be one of many causal factors.

Protest size

Reliable and accurate information on the number of protesters is not always available. In many cases, the only sources of information on a protest’s size are local authorities, who often underestimate the size of protests, or protest organizers, who may overestimate the size of protests.

Protest significance

There is no scientifically precise way to define a significant protest. The word significant here is understood in terms of political importance: the impact of a protest on a country’s political life. While a protest’s size can give some indication of its importance, it is not determinative on its own. A large protest in a country where protesting is legal and occurs frequently may not be as significant as a small protest in a country where public demonstrations are banned and authorities are known to use violence against protesters. To account for the varying environments for protests across regime types, this tracker generally considers protests in contexts with a Freedom in the World rating of “free” or “partly free” to be significant if the protest’s peak size reaches or exceeds 10,000 protesters, and protests with a Freedom in the World rating of “not free” to be significant if the protest’s peak size reaches or exceeds 1,000 protesters.

Although most protests directly related to the coronavirus outbreak are so far quite small, they have been included in the tracker because of their potential impact on governance and policy at the local, national, and international levels and because of the overriding importance of the pandemic crisis.

Reliance on English-language sources Data for this tracker are drawn from English-language news sources.

The data are based on reporting from credible news sources, with some cross-referencing for verification when possible. Publications and television outlets used to compile this data include (but are not limited to) Al Jazeera, the Atlantic, Balkan Insight, BBC, Bloomberg, CNN, DW News, the Economist, Euronews, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, France24, the Guardian, the Nation, NBC News, New York Times, NPR, Reuters, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Vox, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and World Politics Review.

Information on the status of political freedoms and civil liberties in each country is drawn from the annual Freedom in the World reports.

David Wong, a James C. Gaither junior fellow with Carnegie’s Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program for 2019–2020, is primarily responsible for the compilation of the information in the tracker.

About the Tracker

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