Friday, December 01, 2006

The Democracy Index

The world's most successful democracy?


The Economist Intelligence Unit has done an indepth study of the world's democracies and Sweden ranked 1st on the democracy index of 167 countries. (Link is PDF) (Click here for HTML)

The EIU measured five areas related to the vital components of democracy:

- Electoral process and pluralism
- Functioning of government
- Political participation
- Political culture
- Civil liberties

Out of a possible 10 score in each category, Sweden scored a full 10 in every area except political culture. The overall average score was 9.88.

Sweden was followed by Iceland at 9.71 and the Netherlands at 9.66.

Canada scored 9.07 and was ranked 9th in the world with low scores in Political participation and Political culture. Civil liberties were scored at a full 10.

The United States was ranked 17th with a score of 8.22. That put the US 12 positions away from being declared a flawed democracy with significantly low scores in the areas of Functioning of government, Political participation and Civil liberties. And, if there is one question which cost the US dearly it was question 51: Does the country employ torture?

The United Kingdom was ranked 23rd with a score of 8.08, a result of an abysmally low score in Political participation and only six positions away from being ranked a flawed democracy.

The “near-perfect” democracy is Sweden, the country with the highest score. The other Nordic countries also have high ranks. By contrast, the United States and Britain are near the bottom of the full democracy category, but for somewhat different reasons. America falls down on some aspects of governance and civil liberties. Despite low election turnouts, political participation in the United States is comparatively high. In Britain low political participation (the lowest in the developed world) is a major problem, and to a lesser extent, for now, so are eroding civil liberties. The rating for France is also comparatively low as a result of modest scores for the functioning of government, political participation and political culture. Italy performs even worse, and falls in the flawed democracies category—as a result of problems in functioning of government and the electoral process, as well as weaknesses in the political culture. (Emphasis mine)
Clearly, Canada, possessing a ranking in the top 10 democracies, would do well to strive for the success realized by Sweden and avoid falling into the US model.

Got that, Steve?

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