The Instinct for Freedom: Democracy’s best and worst


The Economist Intelligence Unit has published the twelfth edition of its Democracy Index which rates democracy levels in 165 independent states and two territories. The research is based on criteria including civil liberties, the electoral process and pluralism, government functionality, political participation and political culture with the countries rated on a 0 to 10 scale, Statista’s Niall McCarthy writes:

This year’s index found that the average global democracy score has fallen from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44 in 2019, the worst average score since the research was first conducted in 2006. Northern Europe leads the way for democracy with Norway recording the highest score, 9.87. Iceland came second with 9.58 while Sweden was third with 9.39. The United States only managed a score of 7.96 which left it in 25th position. North Korea comes last, scoring 1.08 out of 10 while the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic complete the bottom three.

But the recent upsurge of protests indicate the potential for democratic renewal, the EIU observes. 

Since the spring of 2018, when authoritarian regimes unexpectedly fell in Ethiopia, Armenia, and Malaysia, grassroots movements of protest against corrupt and unaccountable autocratic governments have swept through many countries and regions, adds National Endowment for Democracy (NED) president Carl Gershman.

In this new period, organizations and individuals working to strengthen democracy globally should focus on six urgent priorities, he writes for The Journal of Democracy:*

1) assisting democratic transitions;

2) supporting the liberalization of authoritarian systems;

3) countering authoritarianism’s malign influence internationally;

4) defending democratic values against growing illiberalism and intolerance;

5) winning the new battle over technology and information; and

6) reviving democratic political will in the world’s leading democracies, above all in the United States. RTWT

*In celebration of the @JoDemocracy ‘s 30th anniversary issue, editors and contributors will gather for reflections and discussion on authoritarianism and the global state of democracy. You can watch the live stream here: #NEDemocracy

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