U.S. Designated A “Flawed” Democracy – Ranks 25th; Canada Ranks 7th – Here’s Why

The Democracy Index, as reported below, measures the state of democracy in 167 countries…[It] is based on 60 indicators grouped in 5 different categories, measuring pluralismcivil liberties and political culture….[and] categorizes each country in one of 4 regime types: full democraciesflawed democracieshybrid regimes and authoritarian regimes.


Full democracies are nations where civil liberties and fundamental political freedoms are not only respected but also reinforced by a political culture conducive to the thriving of democratic principles. These nations have:

  • a valid system of governmental checks and balances,
  • an independent judiciary whose decisions are enforced,
  • governments that function adequately,
  • diverse and independent media [and]…
  • only limited problems in democratic functioning.

Flawed democracies are nations where elections are fair and free and basic civil liberties are honoured but may have issues (e.g. media freedom infringement and minor suppression of political opposition and critics). These nations have significant faults in other democratic aspects, including:

  • underdeveloped political culture,
  • low levels of participation in politics,
  • and issues in the functioning of governance.

In 2016, the United States was downgraded from a full democracy to a flawed democracy; its score, which had been declining for some years, crossed the threshold from 8.05 in 2015 to 7.98 in 2016. The report states that this was caused by a myriad of factors dating back to at least the late 1960s which have eroded Americans’ trust in governmental institutions

Hybrid regimes are nations with regular electoral frauds, preventing them from being fair and free democracy. These nations commonly have:

  • governments that apply pressure on political opposition,
  • non-independent judiciaries,
  • widespread corruption,
  • harassment and pressure placed on the media,
  • anemic rule of law,
  • and more pronounced faults than flawed democracies in the realms of:
    • underdeveloped political culture,
    • low levels of participation in politics,
    • and issues in the functioning of governance.

Authoritarian regimes are nations where political pluralism has vanished or is extremely limited. These nations:

  • are often absolute monarchies or  dictatorships,
  • may have some conventional institutions of democracy but with meagre significance,
  • infringements and abuses of civil liberties are commonplace,
  • elections (if they take place) are not fair and free,
  • the media is often state-owned or controlled by groups associated with the ruling regime,
  • the judiciary is not independent,
  • and omnipresent censorship and suppression of governmental criticism.

The Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index map for 2019

RankCountryScoreElectoral process
and pluralism
Functio­ning of
Region[n 1]Changes from
last year
1 Norway9.8710.009.6410.0010.009.71Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Steady
Rank: Steady
2 Iceland9.5810.009.298.8910.009.71Full democracyWestern Europe
3 Sweden9.399.589.648.3310.009.41Full democracyWestern Europe
4 New Zealand9.2610.009.298.898.1310.00Full democracyAsia & Australasia
5 Finland9.2510.008.938.898.759.71Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Increase 0.11
Rank: Increase 3
6 Ireland9.2410.007.868.3310.0010.00Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Increase 0.09
Rank: Steady
7 Denmark9.2210.009.298.339.389.12Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Steady
Rank: Decrease 2
 Canada9.229.589.647.789.389.71Full democracyNorth AmericaScore: Increase 0.07
Rank: Decrease 1
9 Australia9.0910.008.937.788.7510.00Full democracyAsia & AustralasiaScore: Steady
Rank: Steady
10  Switzerland9.039.589.297.789.389.12Full democracyWestern Europe
11 Netherlands9.019.589.298.338.759.12Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Increase 0.12
Rank: Steady
12 Luxembourg8.8110.008.936.678.759.71Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Steady
Rank: Steady
13 Germany8.689.588.578.337.509.41Full democracyWestern Europe
14 United Kingdom8.529.587.508.897.509.12Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Decrease 0.01
Rank: Steady
15 Uruguay8.3810.008.576.117.509.71Full democracyLatin AmericaScore: Steady
Rank: Steady
16 Austria8.299.587.868.336.888.82Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Steady
Rank: Steady
 Spain8.299.587.147.788.138.82Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Increase 0.11
Rank: Increase 3
18 Mauritius8. democracySub-Saharan AfricaScore: Steady
Rank: Decrease 1
19 Costa Rica8.139.587.506.677.509.41Full democracyLatin AmericaScore: Increase 0.06
Rank: Increase 1
20 France8.129.587.867.786.888.53Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Increase 0.32
Rank: Increase 9
21 Chile8.089.588.575.008.139.12Full democracyLatin AmericaScore: Increase 0.11
Rank: Increase 2
22 Portugal8.039.587.866.117.509.12Full democracyWestern EuropeScore: Increase 0.19
Rank: Increase 5
23 South Korea8.009.177.867.227.508.24Flawed democracyAsia & AustralasiaScore: Steady
Rank: Decrease 2
24 Japan7.998.758.216.677.508.82Flawed democracyAsia & Australasia
25 United States7.969.177.147.787.508.24Flawed democracyNorth AmericaScore: Steady
Rank: Steady