The global 2019 Democracy Index score diminished from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44 2019, according to a recently published report of The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU),  Democracy Index 2019. EIU said that this is the lowest average global score ever recorded since the creation of the index back in 2006.

According to the EIU, this decline in the average score in the global scale was due to the severe regression in the state of democracy in the regions of Latin America and Sub-saharan Africa.

2019 is also noted to be a year of protests.

“2019 was defined in large part by a wave of popular protest in the developing world. Both expressed a demand for more popular sovereignty and better political representation and both hold out the potential for a regeneration of democracy,” EIU Europe Regional Director Joan Hoey said in an interview.

For more detailed and country-specific insights, you can check out the report. Here, we will discuss the highlights.

Global Highlights 

167 countries were included in this year’s study. 48.4% of these are democracies, 35.6% are authoritarian regimes, while the remaining 16% are hybrid regimes.

The subcategory of democracies EIU calls “flawed democracies” takes the distinction of having the most number of countries at 54 in total. The distribution of the countries based on their classifications are shown above.

Looking at the data in map form and we can see that the democracies (those with high Democracy Index Scores) are heavily clustered on the west side of the world. Other predominantly democratic regions are Southeast Asia, Australia, Oceania, and Europe.

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Meanwhile, it can be seen that most of the authoritarian and hybrid regimes (those with lower Democracy Index scores) can be located in East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Country Highlights 

Ranking the countries based on their Democracy Index value and we will arrive at the following:

For 2019, Norway retains the first spot with a Democracy Index score of 9.87. Iceland (9.58), Sweden (9.39), and New Zealand (9.26) also retain their second, third, and fourth positions, respectively, from the 2018 rankings. Meanwhile, FInland rose three steps above from 2018 to occupy the fifth spot in 2019.

At 167th place, North Korea retains its position as the worst country for democracy.

How democracy is measured

The Democracy Index is on a 0 to 10 scale, where 10 represents a full democracy and 0 a total authoritarian regime.

In the creation of the index, 60 indicators were considered, all of which fall into one of the following dimensions:

  1. Electoral process and pluralism
  2. Functioning of government
  3. Political participation
  4. Democratic political culture
  5. Civil liberties

Using the values of the index, the countries are classified into four types of regime:

  • Full democracies: scores greater than 8
  • Flawed democracies: scores greater than 6, and less than or equal to 8
  • Hybrid regimes: scores greater than 4, and less than or equal to 6
  • Authoritarian regimes: scores less than or equal to 4

Since 2o12. EIU reported that all of the dimensions within the Democracy Index, except for political participation, experienced a continuous decline. The largest decline is observed in civil liberties, where all regions in the world recorded a decline.

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The figures show that the global state of democracy is backsliding. It appears that in line with this, people’s dissatisfactions are growing as evidenced by the emergence of the multiple protests in 2019. This must also be the reason why the political participation dimension did not experience a decline.

“The global march of democracy stalled in the 2000s and retreated in the second decade of the 21st century. But the recent wave of protest in the developing world and the populist insurgency in the mature democracies show the potential for democratic renewal,” Hoey remarked.

Faced with a distorted democracy and leaders who are failing to deliver, it seems like the people themselves will reclaim democracy and demand the change that they want once more. With a united front, the people truly are the masters of their own destiny.

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