The Economist’s annual Democracy Index has placed New Zealand fourth out of 165 independent countries and territories. Photo / Mark Mitchell
New Zealand was once again in the top five list in the international ranking of the world’s most democratic countries, but failed to improve last year’s position.
The Economist’s annual Democracy Index has placed New Zealand fourth out of 165 independent countries and territories, giving it an almost perfect score of 9.25 / 10.
But, for the first time in a decade, New Zealand’s score has slumped – albeit only slightly.
Between 2010-2019, New Zealand scored a consistent figure of 9.26 each year. But 2020’s 0.01 percent drop has no impact on New Zealand’s overall ranking on the list.
Scandinavian countries dominate the top ten, with Norway at the top, followed by Iceland and Sweden.
Australia is ninth, with a score of 8.96 and Iran is the least democratic country on the list, with a score of only 2.2.
New Zealand’s ranking places it in the “full democracy” category on the list – in contrast, a US score of 7.92 places it in the “flawed democracy” category.
The report noted that New Zealand and Australia have always enjoyed “full democracy” status – “although their scores have dropped slightly over the year”.
He also noted the fact that New Zealand had a “peaceful democracy” last year – a year the report described as “chaos”.
But apart from this brief reference, this 75-page report provides few details on New Zealand.
This gives the country a perfect score of 10 in terms of electoral process and its pluralism, but 8.93 when it comes to scores of a functioning Government.
However, this figure is still higher than most of the other countries on the list.
The main focus of the report is on a tumultuous year in the US.
Although the overall score did not change dramatically, the report said the overall score appeared stable and the US position was “deceptive”.
The US political engagement score rose but its overall performance was held back by a number of weaknesses.
These include a very low level of trust in political institutions and parties; severe dysfunction in government functions and increasing threats to freedom of expression.
“What is more worrying is that public confidence in the democratic process will be further hit in 2020 by the refusal of the outgoing president to accept the election results,” the report said.
“Trump and his allies continue to accuse voter fraud long after the elections are over, without producing plausible evidence to support their claims and in the face of court rulings against them.”
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