Global Democracy in Retreat

31-01-2020

Global Democracy in Retreat

In the 2019 edition of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual Democracy Index, which provides a snapshot of the state of democracy worldwide, the average global score fell from 5.48 in 2018 to 5.44 (on a scale of 0-10). This is the worst score since the index was first produced in 2006. The 2019 result is even worse than that recorded in 2010, in the wake of the global economic and financial crisis, when the average global score fell to 5.46. Democratic backsliding across the globe did not go unanswered, igniting popular protests, especially in emerging market regions.

Key findings include:

  • The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index registered the worst global democracy score since its inception in 2006.
  •  The decline in the average global score was driven by sharp regressions in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  •  2019 was a year of protest across the developed and developing world.
  •  Chile, France and Portugal become “full democracies”.

The decline in the average global score in 2019 was driven by a sharp regression in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, a lesser one in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and by stagnation in the four other regions covered by the Democracy Index. Latin America was the worst-performing region in 2019, recording a fall of 0.11 points in its average regional score compared with 2018, to 6.13. Starting from an already low base, the regression in Sub-Saharan Africa was also striking: the average regional score fell by 0.10 points year on year, to 4.26. The democratic deterioration in the MENA region was more modest but followed a trend of steady regression since 2012 when the gains of the Arab Spring began to be reversed. The average score for Asia and Australasia, eastern Europe, North America, and western Europe stagnated in 2019.

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s measure of democracy, almost one-half (48.4%) of the world’s population live in a democracy of some sort, although only 5.7% reside in a “full democracy”, down from 8.9% in 2015 as a result of the US being demoted from a “full democracy” to a “flawed democracy” in 2016. More than one-third of the world’s population live under authoritarian rule, with a large share being in China. In 2019 some 68 countries experienced a decline in their total score compared with 2018, but almost as many (65) recorded an improvement. The other 34 stagnated, with their scores remaining unchanged compared with 2018.

There were some impressive improvements and some dramatic declines. There were ten changes of regime category, six positive and four negative. Three countries (Chile, France, and Portugal) moved from the “flawed democracy” category to become “full democracies”. Malta moved in the opposite direction, becoming a “flawed democracy”. At the other end of the democracy spectrum, Algeria moved from being an “authoritarian regime” to a “hybrid regime”, while Iraq and Palestine went the other way and became “authoritarian regimes”. El Salvador and Thailand moved out of the “hybrid regime” category into the “flawed democracy” category, while Senegal went the other way. Norway topped the Democracy Index global ranking in 2019 and North Korea remained at the bottom.

Download the full Democracy Index 2019 report for free.

Source: https://www.eiu.com/n/global-democracy-in-retreat/

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