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Democracy Index

Published: 17th Jan, 2019


  • Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has recently released the 11th edition of Democracy Index.
  • Recent edition reveals that political participation is on the rise in almost every region of the world.


Democracy Index:

  • It ranks nations on five parameters – electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties. Among all these parameters, India fared the worst when it came to political culture.

Highlights of the report

Democracy stagnates

  • For the first time in three years, the Democracy Index did not deteriorate in 2018. But nor did it register any progress on a global scale. Across the globe, deep disillusionment with the functioning of government was evident, knocking confidence in political institutions, and ultimately in democracy itself.

Political participation rises

  • A host of indicators used to assess the scale of political participation improved in 2018. On average, scores for voter turnout increased; there was also an uptick in membership of political parties and organisations—even amid signs that confidence in political parties had reached fresh lows during the year—and growing engagement with politics in the news.

Women’s political participation makes progress

  • While many indicators of political participation improved in 2018, none improved more than women’s political participation—as measured by the proportion of women represented in the legislature.

Top and bottom

  • Norway came out on top and North Korea One of the more notable improvements is of Costa Rica, the only country to join the ranks of “full democracies” in 2018, and to break into the top 20, rising three places from 23rd to 20th.
  • Western Europe continues to feature heavily among the index’s “full democracies”; apart from North Korea, the bottom 20 features countries from the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe heavily.

Regional trends

  • After falling in 2017, Eastern Europe, Asia and Australasia, and Sub-Saharan Africa all saw an improvement in 2018.
  • In Latin America and Western Europe there were continued deteriorations, maintaining a trend that has been in evidence in both regions for three years.
  • Eastern Europe remains the region that has deteriorated most since the Democracy Index began in 2006
  • Asia recorded the most progress from a low base.


  • According to Democracy Index 2018, not much has changed in India. India is ranked at 41 and improvement of one notch over the previous year.
  • It is still classified as a ‘flawed democracy’ according to the index. The report defines a flawed democracy as a nation that have free and fair elections and, even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom), basic civil liberties are respected.
  • India ranks below the US (ranked 25th in the index) and other so called ‘flawed democracies’ like Italy, France, Botswana and South Africa.
  • However, there are significant weaknesses in other aspects of democracy, including problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.

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