The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index Shows More Reversals than Expansions of Democracy
January 6, 2012
By: Garrett Nada | Printer Friendly
According to the 2011 edition of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, the past year has been a “turbulent” one for democracy. Many nations, including mature democracies, have seen a decline in popular confidence in political institutions and mounting social unrest. The index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Each country is given an overall index score out of 10 based on a simple average of the 60 indicators grouped into those categories. Countries are also designated with one of four different regime types; full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes. The Democracy Index was first produced in 2006.
On one hand, the events of the Arab Spring have improved the Middle East and North Africa region’s score since last year. Only one other region, Sub-Saharan Africa, improved its average score. These regions contain this year’s biggest gainers, such as Tunisia, Mauritania and Niger. On the other hand, seven countries in Western Europe now have lower democracy scores compared to last year and no country has a higher score, mostly due to the effects of the economic crisis. Eastern Europe saw even more setbacks to democracy. More than a third of the 28 nations in the region scored worse than last year. The Unit lowered Russia’s score due to Putin’s decision to return to the presidency in 2012 and the flawed December 2011 parliamentary election. The Scandinavian nations continue to top the index along with Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia all scoring over 9.
In this latest edition of the index, the Economist recorded 25 full democracies, 53 flawed democracies, 36 hybrid regimes, and 53 authoritarian regimes. In looking forward to 2012, the Unit believes the euro crisis will continue to pose challenges to democracy. Economic crisis may have the potential to trigger pro-democratic uprisings or backsliding in democracy. Resource-rich authoritarian states may find it more difficult to buy off their populations amid lower oil prices.
To read the full report, please see:
Democracy Index 2011 - Democracy under stress
The Economist Intelligence Unit - Democracy under stress