The democracy index is an indicator that aims to quantitatively capture the state of democracy in a group of 167 countries.
The democracy index is compiled by the intelligence unit of the media company The Economist. Publication of the index began in 2006.
The index has a scale from 0 to 10, where the countries are grouped according to the following regimes:
- Full democracy: between 8 and 10.
- Defective democracy: between 6 to 7.9.
- Hybrid regimen: between 4 and 5.9.
- Authoritarian regime: below 4 points.
The index is made up of 60 indicators, divided into 5 categories. These indicators are measured with a dichotomous and three-point system. That is, for some it is 1 and 0, and for others it is 1, 0.5 and 0.
Democracy index categories
The index includes the following parameters:
- Electoral process and pluralism: It is taken into consideration if there are a variety of candidates and parties, and if citizens are free from threats to vote. Also if the legal framework is adapted to a process free of advantages.
- Functioning of the Government: In this case, it is considered whether any element outside the elected civilian Government influences, such as the military, foreign powers and religious groups. In addition, other elements such as trust in the government, transparency of the mandate and influence over the territory are considered.
- Political participation: Includes the participation of the voting age population and, especially, that of women and minority groups. It also considers the proactivity of the Government to promote the participation of the population.
- Democratic political culture: Here it is important to highlight the desire of the population for a strong leader or military government. Religious tradition and its separation from the State are also measured, as well as other forms of government outside democracy such as technocracy.
- Civil liberties: This includes freedom of expression, internet access, separation of powers, public safety and equality before the law, among others.
Importance of the democracy index
There is no consensus on the definition of democracy, which limits its measurement. The Economist magazine starts from the common elements that make it up to develop its measurement. Despite this, it is necessary to have tools that can warn about the political situation in the world.
Democracy consists of the population electing representatives who develop policies in favor of society. Therefore, if this system is perverted, it indicates that said representatives act in favor of their personal interests and not those of the majority. In this case, it is necessary to know when it happens, why it happens and how it compares with the rest of the countries. There lies the importance of making these measurements regularly, as well as establishing it on measurable scales, less subjective than a qualitative opinion of experts.
Finally, it should be noted that this index, like all of them, is perfectible. A recurring criticism of these indices is the use of experts to evaluate some indicators. Probably, the main discontent is the bias that these experts could have, as well as the transparency of their opinions. On the other hand, they also use survey results, an important characteristic given that they show the opinion of a representative part of the population.
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