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The Economist’s Global Democracy Index: Where Countries Rank on Democratic Freedoms

Global Democracy Index

When moving to a new nation, it’s valuable to comprehend how democracy operates there. Democracies worldwide have core foundations yet manifest in various forms. This article explores the central pillars of democracy and analyzes the state of democracy globally utilizing the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, highlighting the 10 most and least democratic states.

The Bedrock Principles of Democracy

Certain key traits constitute a democracy:

  • A multi-party structure with political competition
  • Regular, free, and fair elections
  • An open, transparent state that follows the rule of law
  • Peaceful transfers of power
  • An independent media without governmental control
  • Safeguarding civil liberties and political rights regardless of majority or minority status

The 10 Highest-Ranking Democracies

10. Taiwan: Score: 8.99

Taiwan’s competitive democracy enables peaceful power transfers and protects civil liberties.

9. Netherlands: Score: 9.00

A parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy with strong democratic structures.

8. Ireland: Score: 9.13

Ireland has a stable democracy, an independent judiciary, and well-respected civil liberties.

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7. Switzerland: Score: 9.14

A direct democracy based on decentralization and coalition governance.

6. Denmark: Score: 9.28

Denmark has robust democratic values, including free speech, association, voting rights, and fair elections.

5. Finland: Score: 9.29

Finland’s parliamentary system holds free, fair elections and provides full civil liberties and political rights.

4. Sweden: Score: 9.39

Sweden’s parliamentary monarchy guarantees essential democratic rights via both law and practice.

3. Iceland: Score: 9.52

Iceland maintains strong civil liberties, political rights, and an improved parliamentary democracy.

2. New Zealand: Score: 9.61

A nation of free and fair elections and fully protected civil liberties and political rights.

1. Norway: Score: 9.81

Excessively strong democracy with anti-discrimination laws and representation for women and minorities. If you want you can also read- World Happiness Index 2023

Measuring the State of Democracy

The Economist Intelligence Unit assesses 60 indicators across 5 categories on a 0–10 scale:

1. Civil Liberties
2. Electoral Process and Pluralism
3. Functioning of the Government
4. Political Culture
5. Political Participation

They then calculate an overall score and classify countries as follows:

  • Full Democracies (8–10)
  • Flawed Democracies (6–8)
  • Hybrid Regimes (4-6)
  • Authoritarian Regimes (0–4)

The 10 Lowest-Ranking Democracies

10. Equatorial Guinea: a repressive authoritarian regime with no political rights

9. Laos: a single-party regime that constrains liberties and rights

8. Chad: under military rule after a 2021 coup d’état.

7. Turkmenistan: an authoritarian state with minimal political rights and civil liberties.

6. Democratic Republic of the Congo: Manipulated elections and limited rights

5. Syria: The oppressive regime and civil war have caused massive rights disruptions.

4. Central African Republic: Armed unrest and severe security issues despite peace efforts

3. North Korea: a totalitarian single-party dictatorship allowing no opposition.

2. Myanmar: The military overthrew the elected government in 2021, prompting immense violence.

1. Afghanistan: The Taliban regime has restricted women’s and minority rights.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index provides valuable perspective on the global state of democracy, elucidating key differences in how rights and governance manifest across diverse political systems.


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