30 March 2013

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index suggests that there has been little change over the last 12 months in levels of democracy worldwide.  The latest assessment of 165 states and two territories grades them into full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.  New Zealand again this year, ranks alongside the Scandinavians as the best of the full democracies. It follows Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark when measured on its electoral process, civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.

Although half of the world lives under a democracy of some form, only 15% of countries enjoy full democracy.

A number of long established democracies are experiencing political infighting, declining participation, and increased national security measures that constrain civil liberties – for example the United States (21st) ranks below Uruguay, Mauritius, and South Korea – while austerity measures in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland have affected the health of their democracy.

The top 25 in the 2013 Democracy Index are:

1              Norway

2              Sweden

3              Iceland

4              Denmark

5              New Zealand

6              Australia

7              Switzerland

8              Canada

9              Finland

10           Netherlands

11           Luxembourg

12           Austria

13           Ireland

14           Germany

15           Malta

16           United Kingdom

17           Czech Republic

18=         Uruguay =

18=         Mauritius

20           South Korea

21           United States

22           Costa Rica

23           Japan

24           Belgium

25           Spain