The United States is no longer considered a "full democracy" as a result of deteriorating freedoms and declining trust in public US institutions, according to an annual report by a British research firm.
The US retained its position as a "flawed democracy" for the second consecutive year, due to "a further erosion of trust in government and elected officials," the Economist Intelligence Unit said in a report.
The report’s annual Democracy Index showed the US ranking 21st in 2017, the same as the previous year and tying with Italy.
The group had demoted the US in 2016 from a "full" to "flawed" democracy, citing a "serious decline" in public trust in American institutions.
The index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture.
The report's authors noted that years of declining trust in public US institutions began well before President Donald Trump took power, but the decline has intensified under Trump's administration.
Trump has further polarized an already divided country and Americans remain far apart on issues such as immigration and economic and environmental policy, the report said.
"If Mr. Trump is unable to reverse the trend towards increasing social polarization, US democracy will be at greater risk of further deterioration," the report said.
Trump was able to tap into the disempowerment felt by American voters, who are frustrated with US political and economic stagnation, the study found.
"The growing divisions between (and within) those who identify as Republicans and Democrats help to explain in part why the Trump administration is finding it so hard to govern, despite controlling both houses of Congress," they write.
The report also found that democratic norms are being eroded around the world. Symptoms include curbs on freedom of speech, declining trust in institutions, a drop in popularity of mainstream political parties and erosion of civil liberties.
"Popular trust in governments, institutions, political parties and politicians has been declining for decades in the US and Europe, resulting in a full-blown legitimacy crisis for today's political elites."