Our country has always been the beacon of democracy, not unlike the earlier example in Greece. It seems just that this establishing this form of government does not ensure the system’s longevity. While the US has been an example for many other countries how are we doing after over 240 years? Below from Wikipedia: “The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a UK-based company. Its intention is to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 164 are UN member states.
The index was first published in 2006, with updates for 2008, 2010 and later years. The index is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories, measuring pluralism, civil liberties and political culture. In addition to a numeric score and a ranking, the index categorizes each country in one of four regime types: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.
As described in the report, the democracy index is a weighted average based on the answers of 60 questions, each one with either two or three permitted alternative answers. Most answers are “experts’ assessments”. Some answers are provided by public-opinion surveys from the respective countries. In the case of countries for which survey results are missing, survey results for similar countries and expert assessments are used in order to fill in gaps.
The questions are grouped into five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, functioning of government, political participation, and political culture. Each answer is converted to a score, either 0 or 1, or for the three-answer questions, 0, 0.5 or 1. With the exceptions mentioned below, within each category the scores are added, multiplied by ten, and divided by the total number of questions within the category. There are a few modifying dependencies, which are explained much more precisely than the main rule procedures. In a few cases, an answer yielding zero for one question voids another question; e.g. if the elections for the national legislature and head of government are not considered free (question 1), then the next question, “Are elections… fair?“, is not considered, but automatically scored zero. Likewise, there are a few questions considered so important that a low score on them yields a penalty on the total score sum for their respective categories, namely:
- “Whether national elections are free and fair”;
- “The security of voters“;
- “The influence of foreign powers on government”;
- “The capability of the civil servants to implement policies””.
While we are still a democracy, I would expect that we have been in a state of decline in recent decades while others have been on the improve. It is interesting that our lowest score is on the elements that make up the “functioning of government”.