Democracy Index 2020 Released

Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) has released the 13th edition of the Democracy Index in February 2021. It has scored 165 countries and two territories by evaluating their state of democracy based on five categories. The first index was out in 2006. In 2020, the index focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on democracy and freedom across the world.

India’s rank on Democracy Index 2020 is 53 [Two spots lower than 2019 Rank – 51].

Find out about the significance of the EIU’S Democracy Index and India’s performance over the years, which can help in the preparation of the governance section of the UPSC Mains GS-II of the IAS Exam.

Meanwhile, candidates can also refer to the list of global indices and India’s rankings in the linked article.

Democracy Index Based on 5 Categories

There is a range of indicators within the five categories on which the Democracy Index is based. These five indicators of the index are:

  1. Electoral Process and Pluralism
  2. The Functioning of the Government
  3. Political Participation
  4. Political Culture
  5. Civil Liberties

How are countries classified under Democracy Index?

The scores that the countries get in the Democracy Index, classify them under the following four types:

  1. Full Democracy
  2. Flawed Democracy
  3. Hybrid Regime
  4. Authoritarian Regime

In the Democracy Index 2020, the number of countries under each classification is given below:

Classification of Nations based on Democracy Index 2020
Full Democracy 23
Flawed Democracy 52
Hybrid Regime 35
Authoritarian Regime 57

Key Highlights of Democracy Index 2020

  1. Norway is the most democratic nation in the world ranking at 1 in Democracy Index 2020; while North Korea was ranked at the bottom at 167.
  2. The percentage of the world’s population living in full democracy has increased from 5.7 percent in 2019 to 8.4 percent in 2020. However, still only half of the world’s population lives in a democracy of some sort.
  3. 35.6 percent of the world’s population lives in the authoritarian regime which is more than one-third of its population. The number of authoritarian regimes has increased from 54 in 2019 to 57 in 2020.
  4. The number of full democracies increased to 23 from 22 in 2019; whereas the number of flawed democracies decreased to 52 from 54 in 2019.
  5. Hybrid regimes have decreased to 35 from 37 in 2019.
  6. El Salvador and Hong Kong are now Hybrid Regimes while Algeria, Burkina Faso and Mali which were hybrid regimes are now classified as Authoritarian Regimes in 2020.
  7. There was not a significant decline in the overall score of ‘Electoral Process and Pluralism’ in 2020.
  8. Political participation saw an increase in the global scores.

Impact of COVID-19 on Democracy

As per the Democracy Index 2020, the state of democracy is at an all-time low on account of novel coronavirus outbreaks. The average global score in the Democracy Index 2020 is at the lowest (5.37) since 2006.

Authoritarian regimes in Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and North Africa regions took the largest fall in their scores in 2020. Even the regions of Asia and Australasia which have been the ones to show the most democratic progress since 2006 took a fall in their scores in 2020.

Latin America’s scores have deteriorated five times in a row. While the US’s scores declined by 0.04; Canada improved its scores in 2020.

Overall, 70 percent of 167 countries/territories witnessed a decline in their scores in 2020; while only 38 countries improved their scores and the scores of 13 nations remained unchanged in 2020 in comparison to 2019.

  • Taiwan is the country with the highest improvement. It ranked 11th in the 2020 index, 20 places up from 31 in 2019.
  • Mali is the country with the highest decline.

Three nations that were upgraded from ‘Flawed Democracy’ to ‘Full Democracy’ are:

  1. Japan
  2. South Korea
  3. Taiwan

France and Portugal were the nations that were classified as ‘Full Democracies’ in 2019, however, they dropped to the ‘Flawed Democracies’ category in 2020.

Asia is the region that has seen the increase in full democracies in 2020 and has been stated as the region to have handled the pandemic situation better than virtually any other region.

Top 5 Full Democracy and Flawed Democracies

The table below shows the ranks of the nations in the top 5 under ‘Full Democracy’ and ‘Flawed Democracy’ categories:

Top 5 Fully Democratic Countries Top 5 Flawed Democracies
Norway France
Iceland United States of America
Sweden Portugal
New Zealand Estonia
Canada Israel

India and Democracy Index Over the Years: 2006-2020

India scored 6.61 in 2020 down from 6.90 in 2019 in the Democracy Index. The scores that India got over the years in the index are mentioned below:

  • 2018 – 7.23
  • 2017 – 7.23
  • 2016 – 7.81
  • 2015 – 7.74
  • 2014 – 7.92
  • 2013 – 7.69
  • 2012 – 7.52
  • 2011 – 7.30
  • 2010 – 7.28
  • 2008 – 7.80
  • 2006 – 7.68

India is as categorised as a ‘Flawed Democracy’ in the Democracy Index 2020. The score was at a peak in 2014 (7.92) and has dropped to 6.61 in 2020. In the past, India had secured the rank of 27 in the Democracy Index.

Performance of India’s Neighbours

The ranks of India and its neighbours in the 2020 Democracy Index are mentioned below:

  • India – 53
  • Afghanistan – 139
  • Pakistan – 105
  • Sri Lanka – 68
  • Myanmar – 135
  • Nepal – 92
  • Bhutan – 84
  • China – 151

Basic Facts to know about India’s Political Fabric:

  • India is a parliamentary democratic republic and has a multi-party system.
  • The head of the country is the President while the head of the government is the Prime Minister.
  • The Constitution of India lays down the powers and duties of the central and state government and constitutional bodies.
  • India has a bicameral legislature:
  • The apex judicial body of the country is the Supreme Court.

Frequently Asked Questions about Democracy Index

What is the Democracy Index?

The Democracy Index is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research division of the Economist Group, a UK-based private company which publishes the weekly newspaper The Economist. The index is self-described as intending to measure the state of democracy in 167 countries, of which 166 are sovereign states and 164 are UN member states.

What are the categories under the Democracy Index?

The index is based on 60 indicators grouped in five different categories, measuring pluralism, civil liberties and political culture. In addition to a numeric score and a ranking, the index categorises each country into one of four regime types: full democracies, flawed democracies, hybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.

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