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Mapped: The State of Global Democracy in 2022

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map showing global democracy index measuring political regimes in 2022

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Mapped: The State of Democracy Around the World

The world’s (almost) eight billion people live under a wide variety of political and cultural circumstances. In broad terms, those circumstances can be measured and presented on a sliding scale between “free” and “not free”—the subtext being that democracy lies on one end, and authoritarianism on the other.

This year’s Democracy Index report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), is one such attempt to apply a score to countries based on how closely they measure up to democratic ideals.

According to EIU, the state of democracy is at its lowest point since the index began in 2006, blamed in part on the pandemic restrictions that saw many countries struggling to balance public health with personal freedom.

In this year’s report, the EIU reported a drop of the average global score from 5.37 to 5.28, the biggest drop since 2010 after the global financial crisis. This translates into a sobering fact: only 46% of the population is living in a democracy “of some sort.”

Let’s dive a bit deeper into what this means.

Percentage of Population by Regime Type

In 2021, 37% of the world’s population still lived under an authoritarian regime. Afghanistan tops this list, followed by Myanmar, North Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Syria. Of course, China has a big share of the population living under this style of regime.

On the other side of the spectrum we have full democracies, which only account for 6.4% of the population. Norway tops this list, followed by New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland.

Regime TypeNo. of CountriesShare of countriesShare of World Population
Full democracies2112.6%6.4%
Flawed democracies5331.7%39.3%
Hybrid Regimes3420.4%17.2%
Authoritarian regimes5935.3%37.1%

Let’s explore the characteristics of each of the four types of regime according to the EIU:

Full democracies are nations where:

  • Civil liberties and fundamental political freedoms are respected
  • Valid systems of governmental checks and balances exist
  • There are limited problems in democratic functioning
  • Media is diverse and independent

Flawed democracies are nations where:

  • Elections are fair and free
  • Basic liberties are honored but may have issues
  • There are issues in the functioning of governance

Hybrid regimes are nations where:

  • Electoral fraud or irregularities occur regularly
  • Pressure is applied to political opposition
  • Corruption is widespread and rule of law tends to be weak
  • Media is pressured and harassed
  • There are issues in the functioning of governance

Authoritarian regimes are nations where:

  • Political pluralism is nonexistent or limited
  • The population is ruled by absolute monarchies or dictatorships
  • Infringements and abuses of civil liberties are common
  • Elections are not fair or free (if they occur at all)
  • Media is state-owned or controlled directly or indirectly by the ruling regime
  • The judiciary system is not independent
  • Criticism of the government is censored

Global Democracy Index by Region

As mentioned earlier, in 2021, the global democracy score declined from 5.37 to 5.28. This was driven by a decline in the average regional score, but every region has a different reality. Let’s take a look at the democratic state of each region in the world.

Americas

North America (Canada and U.S.) is the top-ranked region in the Democracy Index with an average score of 8.36, but this dropped significantly from 8.58 in 2020.

Both countries have dropped their positions in the global ranking, however, Canada still maintains the status as a full democracy.

map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in north and south america

The U.S. is still classified by EIU as a flawed democracy, and has been since 2016. The report points to extreme polarization and “gerrymandering” as key issues facing the country. On the bright side, political participation in the U.S. is still very robust compared with the rest of the world.

Latin America and the Caribbean experienced the largest decline in regional scores in the world. This region dropped from 6.09 in 2020 to 5.83 in 2021. This decline shows the general discontent of the population about how their governments have handled the pandemic.

In this region, the only countries falling under the full democracy category are Costa Rica and Uruguay. On the other side of the spectrum, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba fall under the authoritarian regime classification.

Europe

In 2021, Western Europe is the region with the most full democracies in the world.

In fact, four out of the top five full democracies are in this region: Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland. A notable downgrade in this region happened in Spain; the country is now considered a flawed democracy.

map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in europe

Eastern Europe paints a different picture, where there is not a single full democracy. Three countries (Moldova, Montenegro, and North Macedonia) were upgraded from being considered hybrid regimes to flawed democracies.

Ukraine’s score declined to 5.57, becoming a hybrid region. Russia’s score also declined to 3.24 keeping the authoritarian regime status. It’s important to note that this report by the EIU was published before the invasion of Ukraine began, and the conflict will almost certainly impact scores in next year’s report.

Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa has the most countries at the bottom of the Democracy Index rankings.

The fact is that 23 countries are considered “authoritarian regimes”. Meanwhile, there are 14 countries that are hybrid regimes, six countries under flawed democracy, and only one country, Mauritius, is considered a full democracy.

map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in africa

In North Africa, four countries are considered authoritarian regimes: Sudan, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria. Only Morocco and Tunisia fall into the hybrid regime classification.

Middle East and Central Asia

This region concentrates a substantial number of countries classified as authoritarian regimes. In fact, the region’s overall democracy score is now lower than what it was before the start of the Arab Spring in 2010.

map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in the middle east

There are no countries falling under the category of full democracy in this region. Only Israel (7.97) and Cyprus (7.43) are considered flawed democracies. Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and Pakistan fall under the category of hybrid regimes, and the rest of the countries in the region are considered authoritarian regimes.

East Asia and Oceania

This is broad region is full of contrasts. Aside from Western Europe, East Asia and Oceania contains the most full democracies: New Zealand, Taiwan, Australia, South Korea, and Japan. There are also a high number of countries that fall under the category of flawed democracies.

map showing democracy index measuring political regimes in east asia and oceania

It’s worth noting that some of the most contentious geopolitical relationships are between neighbors with big differences in their scores: China and Taiwan, or North and South Korea are examples of this juxtaposition.

Decline in Global Democracy Levels

Two years after the world got hit by the pandemic, we can see that global democracy is in a downward trend.

Every region’s global score experienced a drop, with the exception of Western Europe, which remained flat. Out of the 167 countries, 74 (44%) experienced a decline in their democracy score.

As pandemic restrictions continue to be lifted, will democracy make a comeback in 2022?

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Politics

Mapped: The World’s Legal Government Systems

The political regimes of the world’s countries have changed over centuries. This map charts the nine government systems that rule the world today.

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Mapping The World’s Legal Government Systems

With over 200 countries existing across the world with unique cultures and traditions, one might assume that there are hundreds of types of government systems. But both historically and in modern times, that’s not the case.

Even while political regimes across these countries have changed over time, they’ve largely followed a few different types of governance. Today, every country can ultimately be classified into just nine broad forms of government systems.

This map by Truman Du uses information from Wikipedia to map the government systems that rule the world today.

Countries By Type of Government

It’s important to note that this map charts government systems according to each country’s legal framework.

Many countries have constitutions stating their de jure or legally recognized system of government, but their de facto or realized form of governance may be quite different.

Here is a list of the stated government system of UN member states and observers as of January 2023:

CountryConstitutional formHead of state
AfghanistanProvisionaln/a
AlbaniaRepublicCeremonial
AlgeriaRepublicExecutive
AndorraConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
AngolaRepublicExecutive
Antigua and BarbudaConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
ArgentinaRepublicExecutive
ArmeniaRepublicCeremonial
AustraliaConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
AustriaRepublicCeremonial
AzerbaijanRepublicExecutive
Bahamas, TheConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
BahrainConstitutional monarchyExecutive
BangladeshRepublicCeremonial
BarbadosRepublicCeremonial
BelarusRepublicExecutive
BelgiumConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
BelizeConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
BeninRepublicExecutive
BhutanConstitutional monarchyExecutive
BoliviaRepublicExecutive
Bosnia and HerzegovinaRepublicCeremonial
BotswanaRepublicExecutive
BrazilRepublicExecutive
BruneiAbsolute monarchyExecutive
BulgariaRepublicCeremonial
Burkina FasoProvisionaln/a
BurundiRepublicExecutive
CambodiaConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
CameroonRepublicExecutive
CanadaConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
Cape VerdeRepublicExecutive
Central African RepublicRepublicExecutive
ChadProvisionaln/a
ChileRepublicExecutive
China, People's Republic ofRepublicCeremonial
ColombiaRepublicExecutive
ComorosRepublicExecutive
Congo, Democratic Republic of theRepublicExecutive
Congo, Republic of theRepublicExecutive
Costa RicaRepublicExecutive
Côte d'IvoireRepublicExecutive
CroatiaRepublicCeremonial
CubaRepublicExecutive
CyprusRepublicExecutive
Czech RepublicRepublicCeremonial
DenmarkConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
DjiboutiRepublicExecutive
DominicaRepublicCeremonial
Dominican RepublicRepublicExecutive
East TimorRepublicExecutive
EcuadorRepublicExecutive
EgyptRepublicExecutive
El SalvadorRepublicExecutive
Equatorial GuineaRepublicExecutive
EritreaRepublicExecutive
EstoniaRepublicCeremonial
EswatiniAbsolute monarchyExecutive
EthiopiaRepublicCeremonial
FijiRepublicCeremonial
FinlandRepublicCeremonial
FranceRepublicExecutive
GabonRepublicExecutive
Gambia, TheRepublicExecutive
GeorgiaRepublicCeremonial
GermanyRepublicCeremonial
GhanaRepublicExecutive
GreeceRepublicCeremonial
GrenadaConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
GuatemalaRepublicExecutive
GuineaProvisionaln/a
Guinea-BissauRepublicExecutive
GuyanaRepublicExecutive
HaitiRepublicExecutive
HondurasRepublicExecutive
HungaryRepublicCeremonial
IcelandRepublicCeremonial
IndiaRepublicCeremonial
IndonesiaRepublicExecutive
IranRepublicExecutive
IraqRepublicCeremonial
IrelandRepublicCeremonial
IsraelRepublicCeremonial
ItalyRepublicCeremonial
JamaicaConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
JapanConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
JordanConstitutional monarchyExecutive
KazakhstanRepublicExecutive
KenyaRepublicExecutive
KiribatiRepublicExecutive
KuwaitConstitutional monarchyExecutive
KyrgyzstanRepublicExecutive
LaosRepublicExecutive
LatviaRepublicCeremonial
LebanonRepublicCeremonial
LesothoConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
LiberiaRepublicExecutive
LibyaProvisionaln/a
LiechtensteinConstitutional monarchyExecutive
LithuaniaRepublicExecutive
LuxembourgConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
MadagascarRepublicExecutive
MalawiRepublicExecutive
MalaysiaConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
MaldivesRepublicExecutive
MaliProvisionaln/a
MaltaRepublicCeremonial
Marshall IslandsRepublicExecutive
MauritaniaRepublicExecutive
MauritiusRepublicCeremonial
MexicoRepublicExecutive
MicronesiaRepublicExecutive
MoldovaRepublicCeremonial
MonacoConstitutional monarchyExecutive
MongoliaRepublicExecutive
MontenegroRepublicCeremonial
MoroccoConstitutional monarchyExecutive
MozambiqueRepublicExecutive
MyanmarProvisionaln/a
NamibiaRepublicExecutive
NauruRepublicExecutive
NepalRepublicCeremonial
NetherlandsConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
New ZealandConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
NicaraguaRepublicExecutive
NigerRepublicExecutive
NigeriaRepublicExecutive
North KoreaRepublicExecutive
North MacedoniaRepublicCeremonial
NorwayConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
OmanAbsolute monarchyExecutive
PakistanRepublicCeremonial
PalauRepublicExecutive
PalestineRepublicExecutive
PanamaRepublicExecutive
Papua New GuineaConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
ParaguayRepublicExecutive
PeruRepublicExecutive
PhilippinesRepublicExecutive
PolandRepublicCeremonial
PortugalRepublicExecutive
QatarConstitutional monarchyExecutive
RomaniaRepublicExecutive
RussiaRepublicExecutive
RwandaRepublicExecutive
Saint Kitts and NevisConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
Saint LuciaConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
SamoaRepublicCeremonial
San MarinoRepublicExecutive
São Tomé and PríncipeRepublicExecutive
Saudi ArabiaAbsolute monarchyExecutive
SenegalRepublicExecutive
SerbiaRepublicCeremonial
SeychellesRepublicExecutive
Sierra LeoneRepublicExecutive
SingaporeRepublicCeremonial
SlovakiaRepublicCeremonial
SloveniaRepublicCeremonial
Solomon IslandsConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
SomaliaRepublicCeremonial
South AfricaRepublicExecutive
South KoreaRepublicExecutive
South SudanRepublicExecutive
SpainConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
Sri LankaRepublicExecutive
SudanProvisionaln/a
SurinameRepublicExecutive
SwedenConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
SwitzerlandRepublicExecutive
SyriaRepublicExecutive
TajikistanRepublicExecutive
TanzaniaRepublicExecutive
ThailandConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
TogoRepublicExecutive
TongaConstitutional monarchyExecutive
Trinidad and TobagoRepublicCeremonial
TunisiaRepublicExecutive
TurkeyRepublicExecutive
TurkmenistanRepublicExecutive
TuvaluConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
UgandaRepublicExecutive
UkraineRepublicExecutive
United Arab EmiratesConstitutional monarchyExecutive
United KingdomConstitutional monarchyCeremonial
United StatesRepublicExecutive
UruguayRepublicExecutive
UzbekistanRepublicExecutive
VanuatuRepublicCeremonial
Vatican CityAbsolute monarchyExecutive
VenezuelaRepublicExecutive
VietnamRepublicExecutive
YemenProvisionaln/a
ZambiaRepublicExecutive
ZimbabweRepublicExecutive

Let’s take a closer look at some of these systems.

Monarchies

Brought back into the spotlight after the death of Queen Elizabeth II of England in September 2022, this form of government has a single ruler. They carry titles from king and queen to sultan or emperor, and their government systems can be further divided into three modern types: constitutional, semi-constitutional, and absolute.

A constitutional monarchy sees the monarch act as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, giving them little to no real power. For example, King Charles III is the head of 15 Commonwealth nations including Canada and Australia. However, each has their own head of government.

On the other hand, a semi-constitutional monarchy lets the monarch or ruling royal family retain substantial political powers, as is the case in Jordan and Morocco. However, their monarchs still rule the country according to a democratic constitution and in concert with other institutions.

Finally, an absolute monarchy is most like the monarchies of old, where the ruler has full power over governance, with modern examples including Saudi Arabia and Vatican City.

Republics

Unlike monarchies, the people hold the power in a republic government system, directly electing representatives to form government. Again, there are multiple types of modern republic governments: presidential, semi-presidential, and parliamentary.

The presidential republic could be considered a direct progression from monarchies. This system has a strong and independent chief executive with extensive powers when it comes to domestic affairs and foreign policy. An example of this is the United States, where the President is both the head of state and the head of government.

In a semi-presidential republic, the president is the head of state and has some executive powers that are independent of the legislature. However, the prime minister (or chancellor or equivalent title) is the head of government, responsible to the legislature along with the cabinet. Russia is a classic example of this type of government.

The last type of republic system is parliamentary. In this system, the president is a figurehead, while the head of government holds real power and is validated by and accountable to the parliament. This type of system can be seen in Germany, Italy, and India and is akin to constitutional monarchies.

It’s also important to point out that some parliamentary republic systems operate slightly differently. For example in South Africa, the president is both the head of state and government, but is elected directly by the legislature. This leaves them (and their ministries) potentially subject to parliamentary confidence.

One-Party State

Many of the systems above involve multiple political parties vying to rule and govern their respective countries.

In a one-party state, also called a single-party state or single-party system, only one political party has the right to form government. All other political parties are either outlawed or only allowed limited participation in elections.

In this system, a country’s head of state and head of government can be executive or ceremonial but political power is constitutionally linked to a single political movement. China is the most well-known example of this government system, with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China ruling as the de facto leader since 1989.

Provisional

The final form of government is a provisional government formed as an interim or transitional government.

In this system, an emergency governmental body is created to manage political transitions after the collapse of a government, or when a new state is formed. Often these evolve into fully constitutionalized systems, but sometimes they hold power for longer than expected.

Some examples of countries that are considered provisional include Libya, Burkina Faso, and Chad.

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