Democracy index: Thailand seen as ‘hybrid’ regime, US downgraded

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The new Democracy Index 2016 released be the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) defines Thailand under the current junta as “hybrid regime” which is one notch above an “authoritarian” state. Thailand ranks 100 on a list of 167 states assessed by the grade of their pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture, civil liberty and soundness of its electoral process.

In total, the EIU sets four categories: Full democracies (19 countries, led by Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Denmark), flawed democracies (57 countries, among them Japan, France, US, South Africa and India), hybrid regimes (40 countries, apart from Thailand also nations such as Bangladesh, Ukraine, Bolivia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Venezuela and Pakistan) and authoritarian regimes (51 countries, including Cuba, Vietnam, Russia, China, all Gulf nations, many African and Central African states and, at the very bottom, Syria and North Korea.

A hybrid regime is defined as one where elections have substantial irregularities that often prevent them from being both free and fair. Government pressure on opposition parties and candidates may be common. Serious weaknesses are more prevalent than in flawed democracies, e.g. in political culture, functioning of government and political participation. Corruption tends to be widespread and the rule of law is weak, as is civil society. Typically, there is harassment of and pressure on journalists and the judiciary is not independent.

Within Southeast Asia, the ranking is as follows:

Indonesia: Rank 48 (flawed democracy)
Philippines: Rank 50 (flawed democracy)
Malaysia: Rank 65 (flawed democracy)
Singapore: Rank 70 (flawed democracy)
Thailand: Rank 100 (hybrid regime)
Cambodia: Rank 112 (hybrid regime)
Myanmar: Rank 113 (hybrid regime)
Vietnam: Rank 131 (authoritarian regime)
Laos: Rank 151
(authoritarian regime)
Brunei: n/a

The most interesting part of the EIU democracy ranking is, however, that the US – said to be the Land of the Free – has been downgraded from a “full democracy to a “flawed democracy” for the first time and ranks 21, between Japan and Cabo Verde and on par with Italy.

The EIU defines flawed democracies as countries also have free and fair elections and, even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom), basic civil liberties are respected. However, there are significant weaknesses in other aspects of democracy, including problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.

“Surveys have confirmed that public confidence in government has slumped to historic lows in the US,” the EIU says.

“This has had a corrosive effect on the quality of democracy in the US, as reflected in the decline of the country’s score in the Democracy Index. US president Donald Trump is not to blame for this decline in trust, which predated his election, but he was the beneficiary of it,” it added.

Overall, according tot he ranking, just five per cent of the world’s population live in “full democracies,” while 2.6 billion live in authoritarian states.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Click to enlarge

The new Democracy Index 2016 released be the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) defines Thailand under the current junta as “hybrid regime” which is one notch above an “authoritarian” state. Thailand ranks 100 on a list of 167 states assessed by the grade of their pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture, civil liberty and soundness of its electoral process.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Click to enlarge

The new Democracy Index 2016 released be the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) defines Thailand under the current junta as “hybrid regime” which is one notch above an “authoritarian” state. Thailand ranks 100 on a list of 167 states assessed by the grade of their pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture, civil liberty and soundness of its electoral process.

In total, the EIU sets four categories: Full democracies (19 countries, led by Norway, Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Denmark), flawed democracies (57 countries, among them Japan, France, US, South Africa and India), hybrid regimes (40 countries, apart from Thailand also nations such as Bangladesh, Ukraine, Bolivia, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Venezuela and Pakistan) and authoritarian regimes (51 countries, including Cuba, Vietnam, Russia, China, all Gulf nations, many African and Central African states and, at the very bottom, Syria and North Korea.

A hybrid regime is defined as one where elections have substantial irregularities that often prevent them from being both free and fair. Government pressure on opposition parties and candidates may be common. Serious weaknesses are more prevalent than in flawed democracies, e.g. in political culture, functioning of government and political participation. Corruption tends to be widespread and the rule of law is weak, as is civil society. Typically, there is harassment of and pressure on journalists and the judiciary is not independent.

Within Southeast Asia, the ranking is as follows:

Indonesia: Rank 48 (flawed democracy)
Philippines: Rank 50 (flawed democracy)
Malaysia: Rank 65 (flawed democracy)
Singapore: Rank 70 (flawed democracy)
Thailand: Rank 100 (hybrid regime)
Cambodia: Rank 112 (hybrid regime)
Myanmar: Rank 113 (hybrid regime)
Vietnam: Rank 131 (authoritarian regime)
Laos: Rank 151
(authoritarian regime)
Brunei: n/a

The most interesting part of the EIU democracy ranking is, however, that the US – said to be the Land of the Free – has been downgraded from a “full democracy to a “flawed democracy” for the first time and ranks 21, between Japan and Cabo Verde and on par with Italy.

The EIU defines flawed democracies as countries also have free and fair elections and, even if there are problems (such as infringements on media freedom), basic civil liberties are respected. However, there are significant weaknesses in other aspects of democracy, including problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation.

“Surveys have confirmed that public confidence in government has slumped to historic lows in the US,” the EIU says.

“This has had a corrosive effect on the quality of democracy in the US, as reflected in the decline of the country’s score in the Democracy Index. US president Donald Trump is not to blame for this decline in trust, which predated his election, but he was the beneficiary of it,” it added.

Overall, according tot he ranking, just five per cent of the world’s population live in “full democracies,” while 2.6 billion live in authoritarian states.

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