TS012 – What makes a country democratic?

TS012 - What makes a country democratic?

The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). It is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories:

I Electoral process and pluralism: coexistence of different interests, convictions, and lifestyles.

  • Are elections for the national legislature and head of government free?

II Functioning of government

  • Is there an effective system of checks and balances on the exercise of government authority?
  • How pervasive is corruption?

III Political participation

  • Extent to which adult population shows an interest in and follows politics in the news.
  • The authorities make a serious effort to promote political participation.

IV Democratic political culture: common values and practices on the political system

  • Perceptions of leadership; proportion of the population that desires a strong leader who bypasses parliament and elections.

V Civil liberties: freedom (speech, religion, press, ideas, right to a fair trial, right to life…)

  • Is media coverage robust? Is there open and free discussion of public issues, with a reason able diversity of opinions?
  • Are there political restrictions on access to the internet?
  • There is no signifi cant discrimination on the basis of people’s race, colour or creed.

Questions that impact the score a lot:

  • “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”.

Degree of democratization:

  • Full democracy: civil liberties and fundamental political freedoms respected and reinforced by a political culture; A system of governmental checks and balances; An independent judiciary.
  • Flawed democracies: elections are fair and free and basic civil liberties may have issues (e.g. media freedom infringement);  underdeveloped political culture; low levels of participation in politics
  • Hybrid regimes: regular electoral frauds; governments that apply pressure on political opposition; non-independent judiciaries, corruption, pressure on the media;
  • Authoritarian regimes: political pluralism is nonexistent or severely limited; absolute monarchies or dictatorship.


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