January 31, 2018 11:11 pm

Canada is a ‘full’ democracy, U.S. is not: report

FILE - At least 68.49 per cent of eligible Canadians voted in the 2015 federal election, which is the highest it's been in decades.

Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press

Canada is one of only 19 countries with a “full” democracy, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

In the EIU’s Democracy Index of 2017, Canada ranked sixth with a global ranking of 9.15 out of 10 – marked on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.

It’s the same score we received in 2016.

READ MORE: Canada ranks No. 2 in Best Countries list, only beaten by Switzerland

Norway took the top spot, followed by Iceland, then Sweden.

Only 4.5 per cent of the world’s population lives in a “full” democracy, while 44.3 per cent live in a “flawed” democracy – which includes countries like the United States, Japan, India and Colombia, the report says.

The rest of the world’s population live in a hybrid or authoritarian regime – including China, Qatar and Russia.

North Korea was the lowest-ranking country on the list.

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World average declining

The report says the average global score fell in 2017 to 5.48 from 5.52 in 2016. Only 27 countries improved their score over the year, while 89 countries’ scores dropped.

“A decline in media freedoms and curbs on freedom of speech … are only one aspect of a broad-based deterioration in the practice of democracy in recent years,” the report states.

Other reasons for this “democracy recession” include less election participation, declining trust in institutions and a growing influence of unelected, unaccountable institutions and experts.

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Most and least improved

The Gambia was upgraded to “hybrid” regime after being classified as an “authoritarian” regime in 2016.

“In 2017, The Gambia witnessed its first ever democratic transfer of power, putting an end to 22 years of rule by Yahya Jammeh, a dictator who suppressed political freedoms,” the report states.

On the other end, Indonesia fell almost 20 spots in the rankings to 68th.

READ MORE: Barack Obama compares path of politics today to path of Nazi Germany

Canada can still improve

The report says that despite Canada’s high score in the electoral process and functioning of government categories, there’s still work to do on our political participation.

At least 68.49 per cent of eligible Canadians voted in the 2015 federal election, which is the highest it’s been in decades.

READ MORE: Federal election 2015: Voter turnout highest in decades

But it did applaud our score for civil liberties, which received a 10 out of 10.

“Freedom of expression and religious and cultural tolerance are championed by the Canadian state, which is important given Canada’s large French-speaking and native minorities,” the report states. “All Canadians enjoy equality under the law.”

*With a file from Global News

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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