20 December 2011


The deaths this week of two national leaders focus attention on the advantages to national well being of democracy. Coincidentally this is the week that the Economist Intelligence Unit released the Democracy Index 2011. The Index published annually since 2008 evaluates democratic practices in 167 countries covering almost all the World’s population (as only micro states are excluded.)

The survey provides an opportunity to compare the Czech Republic which was the first part of the Soviet Bloc to abandon authoritarianism and pursue full democratic values, and North Korea, which has remained ultra authoritarian, rejecting the values of democracy.

In the Czech Republic, the death is being marked of former President Havel. He led the “velvet revolution” and as observed by President Obama “helped to unleash tides of history that led to a democratic Europe”.  Czech Republic is ranked 16th on the Democracy Index.

In North Korea Kim Jong Il, successor to his father as the Dear Leader, has died. As the absolute ruler, he maintained authoritarian practices which have ensured North Korea’s place as the lowest ranking country on the Democracy Index, at 167th place.

Czech Republic is the highest rated of former communist countries (Slovenia is 30th, Estonia 34th and Slovakia at 38th).

North Korea’s lack of democracy mirrors its only allies – China 141st and Russia at 117th. (Othe similarly absolutist regimes are Myanmar at 161st=, Uzbeckistan at 164th , Turkenistan at 165th and Chad at 166th).

The advantages of democracy are evident in the Legatum Prosperity Index (published in October).  The Czech Republic ranks in 26th place; North Korea is not included among the 110 countries ranked because it has not made economic data available. (The Central African Republic which ranks in 160th place on the Democracy Index is bottom ranked (110th) on the Prosperity Index.)

New Zealand is 5th on the Democracy Index and 4th on the Prosperity Index.

Britain is 18th on the Democracy Index and 13th on the Prosperity Index.

United States is 19th on the Democracy Index and 10th on the Prosperity Index.

Norway tops both Indices!