The Economist Intelligence Unit has recently released its updated Democracy Index, covering the year 2019. Norway is found to have the greatest level of democracy in the world, followed by Iceland and Sweden. The two other Nordic countries, Finland and Denmark, are also among the ten most democratic countries.
Thailand saw the greatest improvement during 2019 while China suffered the largest decline. At the bottom end of the table, North Korea, DR Congo, and Central African Republic have the least level of democracy.
The index classifies the 167 countries included in four categories. 22 countries have been designated “full democracies”; 54 countries are in the “flawed democracies” group; 37 are considered “hybrid regimes”; while 54 are “authoritarian regimes”.
10 Most Democratic Countries
The world’s 10 most democratic countries, as per the Democracy Index 2019, are as follows.
- New Zealand
These top ranked countries generally perform well on other indexes too, such as those on livability, happiness, and human development. Mauritius, ranked 18, is the only African country in the full democracy group. South Korea is the top ranked Asian country at 23.
Among other countries, United Kingdom is ranked 14, while the United States is ranked 25 – in the flawed democracy group. Russia and China are ranked 134 and 153 respectively, both among the authoritarian regimes.
Falling Democracy Worldwide
The average index global score fell from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44 in 2019. This is the lowest average score since the index was created in 2006. All world regions, other than North America, registered a decline in their average scores, with Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa experiencing the greatest deterioration of democracy. Out of the five index categories, four saw a decline in their average scores, the exception being political participation.
The reason for this decline is the increasing number of countries facing political protests and social unrest, driven by various factors, such as economic hardships, perceived corruption, and political failures. The year 2019 saw the growth of distrust in institutions and political parties, according to the report. Some countries also experienced increasingly authoritarian rule. Larry Diamond, a scholar on democracy, has pointed to a “democracy recession” prevailing in recent years, particularly in the developing world.
The Democracy Index is based on ratings for 60 indicators which are grouped into 5 categories as follows:
- Electoral process and pluralism
- Civil liberties
- Government functioning
- Political participation
- Political culture
Each of these categories has a score on a scale of 0 to 10, while the final score is an average of these five indexes. Full democracies have an overall score in excess of 8, flawed democracies have a score greater than 6 and up to 8; hybrid democracies score greater than 4 and up to 6; while authoritarian regimes have a score equal to or less than 4. The data sources also include the World Values Survey, and other public opinion surveys, such as Gallup polls and Barometer.
The complete Democracy Index 2019 is available for download at The Economist website.
Categories: Global Rankings