Photo: Human Right's Watch

In the Dirty Basement of Democracies

The Economist’s Democracy Index ranked Venezuela in position 143, out of 167, while Freedom House gave us 14 points (on a 0 to 100 scale). The pandemic (plus Maduro) took us farther from our dream

Rankings and indexes are a good way of looking at the state of some global struggles in this era of excruciating uncertainties. The venerable British magazine The Economist provides several of our favoritesbecause of their quality, not the good news they bring regarding Venezuela.

The 2020 Democracy Index isn’t generally great: its main take is that democracy took a step back in the planet, partly because of the restrictions on personal liberties forced by the pandemic-related measures, as well as some regime changes (for the worst) and the deterioration of social cohesion and conflict management in places like the U.S.; according to the magazine, “the Democracy Index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, the functioning of government, political participation, political culture, and civil liberties. Based on its scores on a range of indicators within these categories, each country is then classified as one of four types of regime: full democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime or authoritarian regime”. Here’s the situation:

  • The global average of 5.37/10 is the worst since the Index started in 2006.
  • 165 states and 2 territories were evaluated.
  • 116 out of 167 ranked lower than in 2019.
  • Only 23 are full democracies, and 8.4% of the world’s population live there.
  • 52 are flawed democracies (the U.S. among them) and 35 are hybrid regimes.
  • There are 57 authoritarian regimes in the world, home to 35.6% of humanity.
  • The top five of those full democracies are Norway (9.81/10), Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, and Canada.
  • The bottom five authoritarian regimes are Chad, Syria, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and North Korea (1.09/10).

And Venezuela?

Venezuela is in position 143 in the club of authoritarian regimes:

  • Overall score: 2.76/10 (it was 5.46 in the 2006 index).
  • Electoral process and pluralism: 0.00/10.
  • Functioning of government: 1.79/10.
  • Political participation: 5.00/10.
  • Political culture: 4.38/10.
  • Civil liberties: 2.65/10.

In case you’re wondering, Maduro’s BFFs are ranked:

  1. Russia: 124,
  2. Cuba: 140 (better than Venezuela!),
  3. Belarus: 148,
  4. Iran: 152.

Yes, Venezuela is the most authoritarian country in the Americas, according to The Economist. 

Meanwhile, Freedom House released its Freedom in the World map 2021, which ranks 194 countries and 5 territories. Venezuela has the following score:

  • Global freedom score, 14/100 (last year was 16/100),
  • Internet freedom score, 28/100,
  • Political rights, 1/40,
  • Civil liberties, 13/60,
  • Category: not free.

Freedom House sees democracies declining since 2006 and talks about a “deepening democratic recession.” Their study concludes there are now 82 free countries, 59 partly free countries, and 54 not free countries. It says that Venezuela is one of the countries where the hope of a democracy revival was killed during 2020. 

Once they see the kind of laws the new National Assembly is about to pass, they’ll be even more disappointed.