Democracy! Democracy! Democracy!

Revenge of the Deplorables
January 26, 2017

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I’ve been writing a lot recently about global politics and the drivers and implications of the increase in populism. I’m returning to it again this week, not because of Donald Trump’s inauguration, but because of the launch of the latest update of The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, which measures the state of democracy in 167 countries globally. If, like me, you think that democracy is a good thing then 2016 was an unhappy year: the average global score fell from 5.55 out of 10 in 2015 to 5.52 in 2016, with 72 countries recording a lower score and only 38 an improvement.

One of the most notable features of the Democracy Index, which is compiled using the expertise of our team of country analysts, is that the US is now classed as a “flawed democracy” rather than a “full democracy”. The key driver of this is a decline in public trust in democratic institutions to historic lows. Mr Trump’s election was in large part a consequence, not a cause, of this trust deficit, which has been a long time in the making. Promising to “drain the swamp”, Mr Trump tapped the mood of deep popular disaffection with government and elected officials that has been growing in recent years. Across the Atlantic, the UK saw its democracy score increase, as the Brexit referendum led to a marked increase in popular debate and participation.

Democracy-lovers looking for a distraction should check out countries such as Portugal, Cabo Verde, Peru, Madagascar and Tanzania, which have been quietly making progress and improving their democracy scores. Let me know via Twitter @Baptist_Simon or email on simonjbaptist@eiu.com.
Best regards,

Simon Baptist
Chief Economist

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