09 Jan 2019
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) revealed that New Zealand has maintained its spot as the world’s fourth most democratic country.
The EIU’s 2018 Democracy Index was dominated by Scandinavian countries, with Norway, Iceland and Sweden ranking in first, second and third place respectively. Denmark and Finland also ranked in the top 10, while New Zealand formed part of the 20 full democracies worldwide.
A less optimistic result was recorded in the United States, with the country dropping 4 rankings from 2017, albeit being partially due to improvements in other countries. However, a significant decline in the public’s trust in the country’s institutions had led to the US being classed as a flawed democracy.
This same trend has been seen in some Western European countries, where anti-establishment parties had gained popularity due to a lower quality of democracy. Other countries classed as flawed democracies include Italy, Portugal, France, Belgium, Cyprus and Greece.
The index is based on five categories, only one of which – political participation – improved globally in 2018.
The EIU said: "The results indicate that voters around the world are in fact not disengaged from democracy. They are clearly disillusioned with formal political institutions but have been spurred into action.
"There was also a jump in the proportion of the population willing to engage in lawful demonstrations around the world, almost without exception."
Results also showed that political participation among women has increased greatly over 2018 and the last decade. Women’s political participation had advanced more than any other indicator in the Democracy Index.
Meanwhile, limitations on free speech by state and non-state actors have been on the increase, heavily impacting democracy.
The five categories assessed upon are:
- Electoral process and pluralism
- Function of government
- Political participation
- Democratic political culture
- Civil liberties
The overall score recorded in New Zealand was 9.26, which is the same as it has been for nine years. Its scores for each individual category remained as they were last year – 10 for electoral process and pluralism, 9.29 for functioning of government, 8.89 for political participation, 8.13 for political culture, and 10 for civil liberties.