The United States has been demoted for the very first time since the report’s history from a full democracy to a flawed democracy as its score fell to 7.98 last year from 8.05 in 2015, below the 8.00 threshold for a full democracy, according to a report by Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
A flawed democracy is a country with free elections. However, the country weighed down by government which may not function as seamlessly as it could, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.
“The upshot is a stronger emphasis on ideological purity and less appetite for compromise, which reinforces a lack of confidence in Congress among voters. Nevertheless, respect for the constitution and democratic values are deeply entrenched as a result of centuries of democratic practice. For urgent and crucial decisions majorities can normally be obtained, but solutions to long-term problems often fall victim to deadlock,” the report wrote.
The report also said that Singapore is among countries with flawed democracy in 2016, along with other countries, such as Japan, France, South Korea and India.
The firm’s Democracy Index began producing the Democracy Index in 2006 and provides a snapshot of global democracy every year by scoring countries on five categories, which are electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation, and political culture.
It grades countries on a zero-to-10 scale based on 60 factors, including the fairness of elections, voter turnout, freedom to protest and freedom of the media, among others.
It will then classified the nations under four types of governments, which are full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime, and authoritarian regime.
However, according to the report, US cannot blame President Donald Trump for the downgrade, saying, “Popular trust in government, elected representatives and political parties have fallen to extremely low levels in the US. This has been a long-term trend and one that preceded the election of Mr. Trump as US president in November 2016.”
“By tapping a deep strain of political disaffection with the functioning of democracy, Mr. Trump became a beneficiary of the low esteem in which US voters hold their government, elected representatives, and political parties, but he was not responsible for a problem that has had a long gestation,” the report added.
It said that the U.S. has been teetering on the brink of becoming a flawed democracy for several years, and even if there had been no presidential election in 2016, its score would have slipped below 8.00. Instead, it noted that dwindling trust in government, elected representatives and political parties is to blame.
The report wrote, “Trust in political institutions is an essential component of well-functioning democracies. Yet surveys by Pew, Gallup and other polling agencies have confirmed that public confidence in government has slumped to historic lows in the U.S. This has had a corrosive effect on the quality of democracy.”
Among 167 countries surveyed, there are only 19 countries to be classified as a full democracy designation in 2016. While, 57 countries classified as flawed democracies, 51 authoritarian regimes and 40 hybrid regimes, that are somewhere between democratic and authoritarian.