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Mapped: The State of Democracy Around the World

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map infographic showing the state of democracy around world in 2023

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Mapped: The State of Democracy Around the World

Only 8% of the world’s population actually lives in a full, functioning democracy, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Meanwhile, another 37% of people live in some type of “flawed democracy”, while 55% of the world does not live in democracy at all, based on the EIU’s latest Democracy Index Report.

Events such as the war in Ukraine and restrictive, long-lasting COVID-19 measures, have caused numerous declines to country democracy scores in recent years. Since the source report first began tracking scores in 2006, the global average has fallen from 5.52 to 5.29.

The Methodology

The EIU measures democracy by assessing 60 indicators across five key categories:

  1. Electoral process and pluralism
  2. Political culture
  3. Political participation
  4. Functioning of government
  5. Civil liberties

Each category has a rank of 0-10 based on how the indicators fared, and the overall democracy score is an average of each of the five categories. For example, here’s a look at the U.S.’ scoring out of 10 in each of the overall categories in 2022:

Electoral process and pluralismFunctioning of governmentPolitical participationPolitical cultureCivil liberties
9.176.438.896.258.53

🇺🇸 Total U.S. democracy score = 7.85 / 10

This score defines the U.S. as a flawed democracy and ranks it 30th overall in the world, down four spots from last year’s ranking. “Flawed” in this case simply means there are problems, ranging from poor political culture to governance issues, but flawed democracies are still considered to have free and fair elections, as well as civil liberties.

The World’s Democracies by Region

Below we map out the state of democracy across various regions around the world.

The Americas

state of democracy in the Americas

One of the best performers year-over-year was Chile, with its score increasing by nearly 0.3. The country moved out of the flawed democracy category last year, largely because of the shift towards constitutional reform alongside President Gabriel Boric moving towards the political center, reducing polarization.

Only three other countries in the Americas are also considered full democracies: Costa Rica, Canada, and Uruguay—the latter of which is #1 regionally.

On the flipside, some of the world’s worst performers year-over-year are located specifically in Latin America, namely: El Salvador and Haiti. Much of the low scores in the region are associated with high crime rates and corrupt governance.

Africa

state of democracy in Africa

The only full democracy in Africa is the small, island nation of Mauritius. Overall, Africa is one of the lowest scoring regions with only five of the continent’s 54 countries ranking as some type of democracy.

Tunisia’s score decreased significantly in 2022. President Kais Saied dismissed parliament early in the year and took control of the electoral council, slowly shifting towards centralized power. And although there were critics, many have since been arrested, downgrading them in the EIU’s eyes from a flawed democracy to a hybrid regime.

Europe

map infographic showing the state of democracy in Europe

Spain and France regained status as full democracies in 2022, mainly improving in the civil liberties and functioning of government categories thanks to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. However, both countries face political polarization; in Spain this is largely exemplified in the attitudes surrounding the Catalan separatist movement.

Some of the lowest scoring regimes in the region are in Russia and Belarus. Russia’s war in Ukraine has violated international law, as well as another country’s sovereignty, decimating its score by 0.96 in the index. Belarus has continually allied itself with Russia, allowing troops—and likely missiles—to enter Ukraine from its borders.

Oceania and East Asia

democracy in asia

In this region, levels of democracy were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hong Kong only removed restrictive policies like mask mandates in early 2023. In contrast, Thailand lifted these restrictions a year prior, providing more individual freedom, according to the report.

Malaysia’s fairly high score of 7.3 could face scrutiny, as the former Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, who was in office during COVID-19, is currently facing corruption charges for money laundering of COVID-19 stimulus package funds.

Central Asia and The Middle East

state of democracy in the middle east

Finally, in the Middle East and Central Asia, there are no full democracies at all. The lowest scoring country globally is Afghanistan at only 0.32.

Israel, the only democracy of any kind of the region, actually moved down six spots in the global ranking from the year prior. Its lowest scoring category in 2022 was civil liberties. This year, the country is in the spotlight due to its judicial reforms proposed by the ruling nationalist party, and civil response has been strong. Mass protests continue around the country.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The Democracy Index Report by the Economist Intelligence Unit

Notes: This report, which has been produced by EIU since 2006, uses 60 indicators as well as public opinion polling and expert analysis to rank various countries. A detailed methodology can be found starting on page 66 of the report.

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Which Countries Meet NATO’s Spending Target?

In 2023, only 11 member countries reached NATO’s target of spending 2% of their country’s GDP on defense.

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Bar chart showing Nato defense spending by country

Which Countries Meet NATO’s Spending Target?

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In 2006, NATO defense ministers agreed that each member country would commit a minimum of 2% of its GDP to defense spending.

This graphic breaks down which members are keeping the agreement, based on data from NATO as of July 2023.

Poland Leads Ahead of the U.S.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a political and military alliance comprising 31 countries. Its primary purpose is to facilitate cooperation among member nations and ensure mutual defense and security.

In 2023, only 11 member countries were on track to meet NATO’s target of spending 2% of their country’s GDP on defense.

The U.S. accounted for 68% of the total defense expenditures by NATO countries, or $860 billion. This amount is over 10 times more than the second-placed country, Germany, if measured in absolute terms.

However, compared to the country’s GDP, the U.S. appears in second place with spending of 3.5% of GDP, behind Poland’s defense spending of $29.1 billion or 3.9% of GDP.

CountryDefense spending in 2023E (% of GDP)
🇵🇱 Poland*3.9
🇺🇸 United States3.5
🇬🇷 Greece3.0
🇪🇪 Estonia2.7
🇱🇹 Lithuania*2.5
🇫🇮 Finland2.5
🇷🇴 Romania*2.4
🇭🇺 Hungary2.4
🇱🇻 Latvia*2.3
🇬🇧 United Kingdom2.1
🇸🇰 Slovak Republic2.0
🇫🇷 France1.9
🇲🇪 Montenegro1.9
🇲🇰 North Macedonia1.9
🇧🇬 Bulgaria1.8
🇭🇷 Croatia1.8
🇦🇱 Albania1.8
🇳🇱 Netherlands1.7
🇳🇴 Norway1.7
🇩🇰 Denmark1.7
🇩🇪 Germany1.6
🇨🇿 Czechia1.5
🇵🇹 Portugal1.5
🇮🇹 Italy1.5
🇨🇦 Canada1.4
🇸🇮 Slovenia1.4
🇹🇷 Turkiye1.3
🇪🇸 Spain1.3
🇧🇪 Belgium1.1
🇱🇺 Luxembourg0.7

Situated in a crucial geopolitical location in Central Europe, Poland has increased its military spending in recent years, primarily due to concerns about escalating instability along the country’s eastern border with Belarus. According to polls, two-thirds of Poles hold a favorable opinion regarding NATO’s activities.

On the other hand, significant economic and military powers are among the members that are falling short. The list includes France (1.9%), Italy (1.5%), Canada (1.4%), and Germany (1.6%).

Despite being on the 2% list, the U.K. reduced the percentage spent in recent years from 2.14% in 2014 to an estimated 2.07% in 2023.

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