The 15th World Audit annual report of
this millennium, this global survey is concerned with the
condition of democracy as it relates to those 150 nation
states with populations exceeding one million.
We define democracy via the criteria of
Human Rights; Political Rights; Free Speech; and the Absence
of Public Corruption.
World Audit has been publishing this unique annual survey
since 1999. Numbers are adjusted for each year when new data
Methodology: The World Democracy tables' sidebar notes,
explain our sources and how we build the statistics into
tables of rank.
1st division = 27 nations; Div 2 = 10 nations; these two together
at 37 nations alone of the 150 in the survey, are considered fully
Those 113 nations who are not: Div 3 = 33; Div 4 = 80.
In this year under review ITALY previously 28th has slipped 15
places and sadly has been demoted from the 1st to the 3d Division,
now at position 43. This is a large and important EU nation, and
we can only hope that they soon recover their democratic status;
In Division 2 MONGOLIA newly arrives, promoted from Division 4 –
having climbed 14 places, an excellent performance. Now at 36,
this was formerly a communist country, squeezed between China and
Russia (though never a part of the Soviet Union).
Division 3 sees ITALY arrive, relegated from Division 1, but with
GEORGIA promoted from Div 4.
TURKEY drop out of the 3d to the 4th Division.
How is democracy doing, at the
start of 2014?
We look back at data for 2013 hoping to discover both if the world
is becoming a better place, and what are the prospects for the
human race? Is progress being made overall, or is it the reverse?
We define democracy via the criteria of Human Rights; Political
Rights; Free Speech; and the Absence of Public Corruption.
To summarise, we find and give the detail showing that:-
Many (most) nations fall far behind the standards implied by the
Definition of Democracy given above, involving Human Rights,
Political Rights, Free Speech; and the absence of Public
The ranking of the 150 nations in this annual survey, are
explained in the sidebar notes in the World Audit Democracy Table.
Further on, we summarise the main regions and institutions as a
commentary on the 4 divisions, which can be summarised as:
Div One (27 nations). Div. Two (10 nations): these are all
Div. Three (33 nations) is for nations that are not there yet, but
show they are capable either of achieving democracy, or
Div Four (80 nations) well over half the 150 total of the survey,
consist of several considered eventually capable of achieving
democracy; a few that could be turned around, yet still with a
regrettably large number who are ‘no hopers’, usually because they
have a powerful family in charge, or a clique, or a dictator, none
of whom care about democracy, and have no intention of sharing
power and its concomitant wealth and privilege.
There are also nations recognised as such, where there is no
settled leadership and the nation is simply anarchic with little
prospect of change. Africa unfortunately has several such ‘no
Yet despite these perennial outstanding losers, for the ‘worst of
the worst’ take the last of the last; Somalia (147); Uzbekistan
(148); Turkmenistan (149); North Korea (150), apart from Somalia
(barely a nation state), our final 3’s evil behaviour inevitably
places them at the farthest end of any such table of nations.
The criteria we have consistently applied to build these 4 tables
of rank are Human Rights and
Political Rights which between them
determine who are in each of the 4 divisions, and those that move
up or down between them. Within each division they are ranked by
Free Speech and the prevalence of public
But how do we quantify this….?
Whilst these criteria are well tried and give a reliable picture,
there has been a relatively new and troubling phenomenon that has
blasted its way into the public consciousness, and which we have
found so far, too difficult to quantify to enable it to influence
outcomes in our annual reports. It is in the area of
International law, or rather its absence, regarding actions that
impinge (like burglarising or killing) on citizens of other nation
states in peacetime.
The USA and many other nations have domestic laws relating to the
capture of data via voice telephone usage and the internet,
currently being tested by the Courts. What is lacking is
international law covering eavesdropping (data capture) by
agencies or individuals, either permitting it or criminalising it,
in the absence of which it flagrantly, intrusively continues.
The sheer scale increases year on year and now it has become a
worldwide scandal, showing no signs of coming under control. Of
course the nations permanently involving themselves in this
behaviour, claim this is necessary to interdict international
terrorism and crime; and yet just as obvious is that it
facilitates diplomatic espionage on friendly, indeed all
governments, as well as those actually or potentially hostile.
Additionally it enables large scale commercial espionage,
(previously regarded as a felony) and is intended to do so by the
choice of targets (such as the category of ‘EU officials above a
certain level’). We discover as well, that what was once the crime
of stealing intellectual property is now winked at, if it is a
government agency doing the stealing.
A free society makes its laws and organises its institutions,
generally described as the ‘Rule of Law,’ but what is now
additionally needed are international sanctions applicable to
every nation, for breaches of an internationally agreed concordat
on an international law of data-protection.
Yet, more serious even than this, is the practice of
state-authorised assassination of targeted individuals, without
benefit of fair trial, or testing of evidence by
cross-examination, the absolute minimum requirement in nations
where capital punishment is legal.
No democratic government can legally kill people in other
countries, let alone their own, simply because they choose to do
so. Yet the world is now witnessing exactly that happening in
Pakistan and the Yemen, with whom the US is not at war, via
military drones - where the USA on the basis of unchallenged
evidence against individuals, target those their agencies want
dead, even though that can lead to the collateral deaths or
mutilation of children, old people and womenfolk of the target in
their homes, and those of their neighbours.
Just as unacceptable has been the targeted murder by bullet and
bomb, of scientists engaged in nuclear research in Iran. Some five
individuals so far, all involved in the Iranian nuclear programme,
have been lethally attacked in Iranian cities, assassinated for
what can only be described as the supposed ‘crime’ of nuclear
research for their own nation. Death for these scientists has been
ordered by someone and executed by others, notwithstanding Iran
has no nuclear weapon – itself the subject of massive
international focus at the highest level.
With the drones, it is possible, probable even, that the primary
targets are evil monsters with blood on their hands, but still
entitled, even if they have never themselves offered it, to the
protection of the rule of law. Why? Because we, the citizens of
advanced states, insist on a higher standard for ourselves, our
friends, families and our fellow citizens. We do claim after all
that our societies (see Div. I of the Democracy tables), are the
most advanced in the world.
Arbitrary murder is ‘what the bad guys do’. We are supposed to be
better than that. But maybe we’re not! It’s too difficult perhaps
– but be very clear, that way lies anarchy. Revenge not Justice,
is what remains.
The Iranians point the finger of blame at the USA and Israel, over
the murder of their scientists. The USA have denied that they had
any involvement, which is entirely plausible, (were it not for the
lingering worry we are entitled to because of ‘death by drone,’
which it admits)!
The Israelis accept or deny nothing, yet say they have no regrets,
which is where it currently stands. It is unlikely that these
targeted physicists and other scientists are in fact ‘evil men,’
like some of the targeted terrorist leaders, and their academic
training and experience cannot in itself infer evil. So
presumably, the object of these murders is to spread terror
amongst them. Apart from any moral considerations, such a line of
policy creates an extraordinary precedent in civilised nations,
the only parallel that comes to mind is in those FSU states where
the original USSR top communist was transmogrified into President
for Life, who then dealt with upstart electoral challengers by
having them professionally ‘suicided,’ before the election, often
‘making sure’ after multiple bullets, with a tapshot to the head.
Clearly, international law needs to cover these issues of
state-directed murder which usually cannot be dealt with by the
courts of the ‘counterparty’ nation so offended, other than
issuing arrest warrants, without a name attached. This rather
casual disposal of suspected terrorists operating beyond the reach
of the law of their land, has the capacity to create international
lawlessness on a massive scale, if more and more nations were to
decide to adopt this method of removing their awkward squad of
potential adversaries. It may be that in a war against terrorists,
this extrajudicial ‘detached’ means of removing them is
convenient, but unless such actions are codified, transparent and
relied upon, they can only be destructive to the rule of law
anywhere and everywhere.
These are serious failings of democracy but there is also good
news. There is a solid core of democratic nations -37 in our
reckoning, via our divisions One and Two. As in every previous
annual World Audit review, the Scandinavian nations are leading
the top five in the world.
Congratulations to them all, particularly the Danes and the
Denmark & Sweden share the No.1 position. No 3 is Finland, with
Norway 4th. Right up there as ever, are New Zealand 5th and No. 6
Netherlands are at 7th, Belgium 8th, Australia 9th.Canada is 10th
– Germany is also now 10th. Ireland is 12th, the UK and the USA
are equal at 13th. France is 16th.
The following former communist satellites have all made a giant
leap: Estonia(15), Poland (22), Slovenia (23), Lithuania(23),
Czech republic (26), Slovakia(27).
Uruguay 18th, Chile 20th and Costa Rica 21st, represent Latin
America in Div One.
Italy sadly has dropped from this Division at 28th, down to 43d in
the Third Division.
About the Democracy definitions we have chosen - of Human Rights,
Political Rights, Free Speech, and the absence of Public
Our definitions of democracy, mean that we do not accept that even
‘fair voting’ at election booths, whilst clearly necessary, is in
itself sufficient - and once outside of a minority of nations, how
many of the rest are fair, considering that few rulers are keen to
surrender power? It is obvious that without the reliable rule of
law, numerous elections are rigged to ensure the result the
present rulers require. This rigging is widespread -
half of all the world’s nations ‘fiddle’ their voting tallies!
This cheating is done in a number of ways, not likely to be
available for oppositions or observers to monitor until the very
day, or just a few days prior to the election. The list of those
entitled to vote; the issuing and format of the ballot papers, the
degree of complexity in the method of casting a vote; the
monitoring of the collection and processing of the ballot, the
authorisation and presence of sufficient independent observers -
all of these, if flawed, have the capacity to skew results, as
they are intended to do.
One only has to see how these matters are approached in genuine
democracies to compare ‘good practice’ from the rest. But while
there may be a degree of sophistication in operating such voting
fraud, the conclusion to the whole thing - counting the tally of
votes is the clincher and, sometimes is crude in the extreme.
One of Stalin’s alleged observations on democracy was “…never mind
who votes; who counts the votes is all that matters.”- and he
Even though a ballot might be rigged, it is obvious that some
candidates – not a lot- are sufficiently support-worthy that they
would be elected anyway. We have maintained for example that
whilst Russia’s Vladimir Putin, or more likely his supporters
might well have broken the basic election rules, his leadership
has been so strong and recognised as such by many- if not the
democrats in Russia, that it is most unlikely he would have lost
any election he has thus far fought. That is of course means any
election in recent history, it is not any indication for the
Further, public demonstrations for or against candidates or
results, done for the publicity where this is allowed, do not
necessarily reflect either way, the reliability of tallies of
votes received. Considering Russia again, elections in 89
federated republics in the largest nation in the world, with all
the logistical problems of physically transporting locked ballot
boxes in constituencies through hundreds of square miles of frozen
tundra to a central shipping point, must be fearsomely difficult
to physically organise, let alone enable neutral observers to
oversee and warrant each stage of the exercise.
This is patently not helped if as happened in the Russian
Federation with 300 million citizens, only 90 individual entry
visas were issued to an international observer organisation for
their experts to monitor, not only in the big cities but every
voting centre of 89 republics. A cynical nonsense of course and
made worse, by the authorities claiming a solution by forming
their own observer teams, which Russian institutions are unable to
convince neutrals can possibly be independent.
Nobody is advocating bypassing elections, yet even when these are
fair beyond reproach, the other criteria are equally essential.
How can there be a democracy where corruption thrives?
There is a direct link between corruption and the courts. If a
plaintiff protests they have been defrauded and their adversary
has in some way bribed the judge, no matter the fairness of the
electoral voting system, if that is the reason for the judgement
then it becomes an offence against justice, involving at least two
individuals: he who bribed and he who accepted the bribe. Where
bribery seeking a favourable judgement is a criminal act, yet in a
particular nation generally uncommon, then it is the parties
involved who should face the consequences, not necessarily the
state in which it happens; but if such actions are commonplace, as
in many’ third world’ countries, then it is the system that is
corrupt and unfortunately that is the cause of many of the 150
nations listed being far removed from democracy.
Again, unless public corruption is addressed as a grievous crime,
to be expunged from the life of any nation, how can there be any
faith in any of the rulings of the courts in that nation’s
judicial system? What then for international trade? It is a clear
indictment, declaring how the land lies in those nations from
which international trade disputes have to be taken to an
impartial international court, or to a mutually trusted arbitrator
often in an unrelated country.
There are so many nations that fail in this way that it is truly
depressing. Even wide geographical regions can be so described -
Africa, for example, where some pretence at being democratic is
widespread. It is not that there is no hope.
However, in Africa
right now, we can describe only 2 or 3 nations (Mauritius and
Ghana, perhaps Botswana) out of the 45 in the African Union, as
being democratic, thus having a clean ‘bill of health’.
There are marginals of course. South Africa (44) is beset by the
evil of corruption, and given the internal jockeying within the
one over-powerful party, living on the honourable inheritance of
Mandela, it is difficult to see if it is democratically
progressing, or regressing. The jury is out, time is passing, but
the prospect, as far as it can be seen, is not at all good!
The Arab World has long held the reputation of also being a desert
for democracy. With just 17 (qualifying here by population)
members of the Arab League, not a single one can qualify as
democratic, whilst their best performer (UAE), ranks as far back
as 75th in the world. There are also to be found: Saudi Arabia
(113), Egypt (103), and Libya (119), all down amongst the no-hopers.
Somalia (147) is contending only with Uzbekistan (148)
Turkmenistan (149) and North Korea (150) to be acknowledged the
worst in the world.
It demonstrates the nonsense that Saudi and Qatar put about
Syria’s (145) uprising (that some western commentators claimed was
in pursuit of democracy). Look at their sponsor’s example!
It is not that there is no hope however. South America, is
emerging from under the shadow of that kind of reputation. The
bulk of 22 Latino nations listed are in the top 100, with only
Haiti (103), Honduras (108), Cuba(122),Venezuela(133), worse than
Human Rights and Political Rights are well understood as the
essential building blocs of any democratic system, and fortunately
there are several good international institutions monitoring such
issues - insofar as they are able, in the many ‘suspect’ countries
around the world. Indeed when a ‘suspect nation’ refuses access to
international monitors of these basic rights, it is a surely a
sign that they have nasty secrets to hide, or that they are just
so chaotic as to not have control over the process, (many in the
African Union can be so described). By the same token, those
countries that do not ban access to monitors have in fairness, to
be regarded as further ahead than the presumed villains that put
up barriers. They at least have acknowledged that they see the
So our criteria for democracy are explained here but there are
fundamental questions like remote assassinations (for which we
have no measurement), to which we have earlier referred:
How can it be democratic for a nation to order via an executive
government officer, the death by stealth of individuals without
trial, and with evidence not subjected to impartial judgement
Iranian nuclear scientists separately were assassinated as they
walked in the streets of Iranian towns or entered their cars. Who
then could have been responsible for this, has not been admitted.
The first example of lethal drones, could at least be explained by
using terror as a weapon against terror, but nowhere is this
codified in any democratic country - and is one terrorist better
The murder of the Iranian nuclear scientists can only be
understood, if at all, by there being some crazed person of power
approving such an action, presumably to terrorise Iranian nuclear
scientists into some alternative career, or to wipe them out
completely in order to interdict the nuclear research programme –
but what if this became commonplace? The mind boggles with the
possibilities across numerous careers, including the senior
military and police of all nations.
It is obvious that international institutions have failed to keep
up with the practice of certain assertive national authorities,
which if copied by other nations could swiftly lead to anarchy on
a terrible scale. International law –and the means of implementing
it must catch up before there is an epidemic of such outrages.
We have no classification for this,
except to say that it is
outside domestic or international law, and represents a clear and
A role for the United Nations
The Syrian civil war is going strong after
three years and the chaos in Libya, not much reported,
continues in a state of rivalry between multiple armed
factions, some straightforward brigands, others Islamic
fundamentalists. There are just a few, who hang on to the dream of
a responsible, stable government - less than democratic
perhaps - but hopefully not antipathetic to the rule of law as
in its western meaning, if not in its Islamic sense.
The prospective threat that the US would intervene in Syria
after the use of Sarin gas had been established, fortunately
did not happen. The US has with good sense become only
minimally involved in this civil war and thus avoided being
dragged in to yet another middle-eastern conflict, which as in
Iraq and Afghanistan, do terrible damage to human life and
Invading Iraq, it can now be seen, was NOT justified.
Western governments sold this to their voters on a false
The US has experienced how hard it is to get out, once having
But the need keeps recurring for a stable impartial power to
be available to intervene, when intervention is obviously
needed, as in Libya.
There is a solution, but neither
the USA, nor any single country can be the world’s policeman-
as many countries would wish on them. The United Nations was
set up towards the end of WWII and almost immediately
intervened in the bitter full-scale war in North and South
Korea. It was of course national armies under UN political
control that were able to intervene, in this case largely made
up of US troops and under a US commander, but it worked. The
invader was repelled after much loss of life and treasure
(today’s belligerent North Korea is often threatening to do
the same again)!
Because the USA easily exceeds the military capability of any
potential grouping of adversaries, it is likely to be involved
in any very large confrontation,
But now, without a clash of superpowers as in the Cold War,
this is rather unlikely. The role the US played recently in
Libya was in support, in planning, materiel and logistics. No
US warplanes or military personnel were directly involved in
confrontational combat, which was undertaken by the air-forces of France and the UK
with some involvement by Qatar.
It is the numerous smaller internal wars, such as in Central
Africa right now, where the UN shows its capability as a
framework, within which pragmatism can play a role. It will be
remembered also that it was the USA where political opinion (
of the good ol’ boys brand), downgraded the UN on the slogan,
that no flag should fly higher than the ‘Stars and Stripes!’
The USA under past presidencies has sometimes been overly
adventurous, (see Iraq), simply because it could, having such
powerful armed forces. But every such military
confrontation costs lives of its personnel, often numbered in
thousands, and such is the power of modern media that the
daily toll of flag-draped coffins on TV around the nation, has
brought home more than anything else, that such a price to be
paid for adventurism, at any rate, is unacceptable. It is
unreasonable that the US should be expected by others ‘to put
boots on the ground,’ or otherwise intervene, when the UN was
set up for that purpose.
The solution is that the UN should be
encouraged to have a permanent high-level planning Staff, all
the military prerequisites drawn from volunteers of all its
member nations equipment and professional personnel available
at short notice, so that when there is a clear need for
intervention, the world no longer looks for salvation to the
USA, but via the UN, having the resources.
We have covered, via NewNations monthly reports (all archived),
throughout the main events in Syria and Libya, as well as Egypt,
also Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, as ‘the Arab Spring’ became a very
Crises of the Arab Awakening
The Arab Awakening (or Spring) of last year turned out to be
grievously unaccepting of democratic concepts, partly because the
regional grouping of governments, the Arab League, count
absolutely no democracies amongst their members– none (see sidebar
‘Arab League’ box). There is no relevant practical experience of
democracy within their kind of government –usually that of a
dominant family. It was always misleading to expect change to
representative institutions, to introduce real democracy as the outcome
of the Arab Spring.
Libya is a screaming example of what happens in a power vacuum. At
present it is properly described as utter chaos! The government,
who seemed reasonable people to emerge from the post Qaddafi mix,
prove the point that for a government to succeed, it must hold a
monopoly of violence (and therefore should have a public mandate
to rule). It has neither.
Various centres in revolutionary Libya saw their own militias
emerge in the civil war. But hostilities did not cease with the
fall of the Qaddafi’s.
With no experience of democracy, rival leaders turned to internal
conflict for advantage, territorial and financial.. Some are
religious fundamentalists, others opportunists, that could be
plainly described as bandits, who had seized a large cache of
weaponry from the old regime. The government is almost a spectator
of events, and seems to have no power except for a limited amount
in the capital, Tripoli. The Gulf oil state of Qatar, with its own
Islamic agenda (as in Syria), has been a significant player here,
which might result in Libya succumbing to Islamism.
Instead of creating democracies ‘for the people,’ there is another
dynamic at work, the apparent longing for the commonplace
wickedness of the world as experienced in authoritarian regimes
(all of them), to be somehow modified by a deeper attention to
their historic religion, be it Sunni or Shi-ite (the principal
host nation of which is not Arabian but Iran, with substantial
Shi’ite followings spread around Arab states).
Yet with Sunni majorities particularly in Saudi Arabia (113),
keeper of the holy places of Mecca and Medina,. the Shi’ites as
minority non-conformists tend to keep their heads down. They are
historically located in the oil extraction regions of the
Northeast of Saudi which is also the coast nearest to Iran across
the Arabian (or) Persian Gulf.
The Sunni however control all the wealthy Gulf States – and thus
the Arab League, hardly a neutral in the religious Civil war in
Syria, the only Arab non-Sunni government before the present
Syria (145): Although with the majority being Sunni, the key to
understanding the Syrian situation is that it is a genuine
‘freedom of religion’ nation guaranteed by the constitution,
having several Moslem minorities: Ismaelis, Druses, Sufi, Shi’ites,
as well as the ruling Alawites, with at least six kinds of
Christians and with a prominent Kurdish ethnic minority. Saudi and
Qatar, the prime movers of the rebellion are ultra-orthodox Sunni
who are engaged in a religious war, both hereditary monarchies,
neither is interested in democracy. And both, like Salafists
generally, are outraged that Syria a substantial and neighbouring
Arabic nation, is not of the Sunni faith at all. It remains an
open sore, both religiously and also politically, since Syria is
Iran’s only friend amongst Arab states.
Iraq (126): Of course bomb- battered Iraq cannot opt out of the
upsurge in religious conflict, mostly measured for them in
horrendous continuing human bombings mostly by Sunni, who used to
Sunni dominance in the pre-invasion time, are killing, mainly via
al Qaeda volunteers, scores of Iraqis of all persuasions weekly in
public places they seek to make the nation ungovernable, with
Shiites responding in Sunni places in the same way. Government
here is elected now with a Shia majority yet with a substantial
Sunni minority, but political leaders have attempted cross
–religious coalitions with some success. However with the war in
neighbouring Syria, with both Sunni and Shia Iraqis sending young
volunteers to their respective forces in Syria, tolerance between
the sects is at a low ebb.
Egypt ( 103 down from 94): the largest of Arab states, has
experienced a virtually non-stop series of critical events over
the past year. A military government under democratic pressure
stood down under public pressure, then ushered in 'democratic' rule,
with the election being won by the highly organised Moslem
Brotherhood. Yet the struggle for democracy had come from the
middle class young and with students spilling their blood in
public demonstrations - they were unorganised into any political
party. They wanted western style democracy
and what they got was religion, not politics - a year of
surprisingly ineffective rule. The country was going broke fast
when the Military intervened, dismissed the Moslem Brotherhood,
arrested its leaders, including the recently elected president;
declared the Moslem Brotherhood a terrorist organisation with
trials of it’s top people to follow. In other words, Egypt (was
94) turned full circle from military rule back to the same, (now
103). As a democracy, it failed partly because the Moslem
Brotherhood had for many years not been recognised as a political
party, but instead they had become a social services organisation
supplying medical and dental help, assistance to the extremely
poor, donating to a large measure those services which in modern
countries are government supplied, and were represented with
branches as a social organisation throughout the villages, towns
and cities, of Egypt. Thus when an election was called, there was
no other political party in sight and the MB widespread
organisation throughout the country, of towns and villages, gave
them a massive majority. The military allowed no time for any new
parties to form and organise, and they resumed power when economic
collapse seemed imminent, and it suited them to demonstrate that
they were needed.
It was quite different for example to those immediate post-Soviet
demonstrations in western satellite nations, that overthrew
unelected governments; and speedily formed political parties
relevant to themselves, and the kind of life to which they wished
to return. The tragedy of Egypt was that the scores, perhaps
hundreds of thousands of protestors in Tahrir square that
overthrew the military rulers, being predominantly students and
many of the urban middleclass, were not politically organised, so
when the election they had achieved came about, they could not
compete with the religious MB who swept the board. The MB in
government then busied itself with outstanding religious items and
neglected the economy, bringing EGYPT to the brink of financial
The ‘Arab Awakening’ countries have a mixed batch of results
bearing in mind the democracy data collection overlapped from
‘pre-awakening’ to ‘post- awakening’, or as in the great majority,
no awakening at all! See the Arab League panel in the right
margin, (not-included are members being below our one million
threshold), the highest being UAE (75th) in Division 4 –and that,
repeat, is the highest of the seventeen member states we list,
that we are expected to believe are so anxious to bring
‘democracy’ to Syria!
All these middle-east states are in democratic terms, far apart
from Israel (30 was 31) which stands as the best performing,
seemingly the only fully democratic state in the mid-east. The
Palestinian problems are getting some energetic attention from the
new US Secretary of State, who impresses, after the rather long
and not very noteworthy period of Mrs Clinton, in that office.
Non-Arab Islamic States
Every month since the beginning of hostilities in Afghanistan
(139), until the end of 2013 NewNations has each month analysed
and reported the politically deteriorating situation (all
archived). What is left to say?
The whole engagement has been very sad. The confrontation between
the world’s most sophisticated nations and one of the world’s most
unchanged primitive societies has benefited neither. The West will
probably be glad to forget it became engaged there. Religious and
Tribal rule will continue to dominate, the heroin trade will
Like Vietnam, the US and other engaged militaries will be relieved
another unwinnable nightmare is over.
Turkey (now 76 was 55) also deeply involved in the Syria story,
but has particular problems of its own –it has the world’s largest
number of journalists in prison - and seems to have become
distinctly more authoritative. It has dropped badly, 21 places,
over the last year. It’s previous reputation as a democratic
Islamic state, is now suspect.
Pakistan (108) has been seen to be intimately involved in its
neighbour Afghanistan’s affairs, via its ISI,. For ten years NewNations have recorded for the public domain the main events of
the geographical region, particularly Pakistan together with
Special Reports on Al Qaeda in its different regional sub-groups.
An important item of information came towards the end of 2013.
Pakistan is infamously a nuclear power. Its ability to achieve
this situation was partly due to massive subventions from Saudi
Arabia, because it is not only a Pakistani weapon, but is also
“the Sunni bomb”! A hedge for Saudi against Iran achieving a
nuclear weapon, it has emerged that if called upon to do so,
Pakistan would make nuclear weaponry available to their Saudi
ally. Thus Saudi has no need to develop its own nuclear weapon.
Pakistan however should really be in a league of its
own. A deep breath is necessary to tell their story, which at
least has had considerable publicity - now its role has been
better understood by the west since the Afghan war. In world terms
its civilian government in Islamabad has little or no control over
a large portion of the country - the ‘untameable’ North-West
Frontier remains, as it was, during the British Raj. Post-colonial
Pakistan has failed to progress, only partly because it has been
in a state of war, declared or undeclared, for much of its time as
a nation, with oversized armed forces costing mightily,
contributing little. More accurately, the civil government is not
independent of their powerful influence, since governments here
are understandably despised, for their venal approach to rule –
the military (nuclear armed) are the most admired institution in
the nation. Yet they are the main proponents of hostility to India
(52) the main reason the country makes no progress by ignoring
that giant market.
Iran (143) for long unpopular with Western powers, currently the
object of Israeli and Sunni hatred (which they heartily
reciprocate), stands at (143).
With the benefit of history it is now clear that Iranian hostility
was based on the undeniable fact that historically the US and UK
outrageously exploited Iran’s oil reserves, and interfered with
Iran’s internal politics. They successfully deposed an elected
leader and replaced him with a western stooge under the unpopular
Shah’s repressive regime, whom the western powers sustained in
office, leading to the blowback of Islamic revolution and the rise
of the mullahs.
Great hopes are current that a resolution to Iran’s nuclear
ambitions will emerge now that bargaining is slated to commence.
Needless to say, Israel is flat against this, seemingly of the
view that Iranians are smarter negotiators than those of the USA.
Not many other countries excepting Saudi and the Gulf states
support that view, the nay-sayers really wanted to see a massive
US strike on Iran, which President Obama was not about to do when
negotiations are going to take place.
Other Islamic non-Arab nations do not do well in terms of
democracy and the rule of law. Malaysia (79) & Indonesia (62),
come to mind but they positively shine in comparison with the Arab
Bangladesh (94) A sad story, this country a part of the Indian
sub-continent is an extremely corrupt nation with massive
problems, which start with the two main political parties, both
with leaders in each case relicts (a daughter and a widow) of two
former antagonistic powerful leaders now deceased. Quite recently
the world’s headlines reported the collapse of a factory, a
Gerry-built sweat-shop making garments for several world-famous
brands, killing over 1000 employees! As expected, although the
factory was ‘licensed’- in reality like many others, its permits
were obtained by bribery which goes all the way to the top. There
is a never ending story of hard living in this 150 million Islamic
population, with natural disasters, typhoons particularly, killing
tens even hundreds of thousands in bad years. A ray of hope when
the Economics Professor Muhammed Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize
for his founding the outstanding ‘microcredit’ Grameen Bank aimed
at enfranchising peasant women and through them their families.
But the government, seeing a successful bank, grabbed it for
themselves by nationalisation, putting their own directors in
place, which presumably will see it decline like every other state
institution, as profits are siphoned off into private accounts of
government placemen/women. Currently there is a massive political
row over the conduct of the approaching general elections, with
public disorder virtually guaranteed.
Russia & the Former Soviet Union (FSU)
We have for many years before, during and since the end of the
USSR analysed and reported on Russia, now with its federation of
89 republics and the former SSR’s, the independent FSU states
5 Central Asians: Uzbekistan (148), Kazakhstan (137), Kyrgyzstan
(120), Turkmenistan (149) Tajikistan (135)
3 Caucasians: Georgia (49+up to Div3) Armenia (91), Azerbaijan (131)
7 Europeans: Ukraine (106), Belarus (142), Russia (129), Moldova
Latvia (38), Lithuania (23), Estonia (15): all now EU members.
Russia and the Former Soviet Union of 15 SSR’s are with
some exceptions, down amongst the dead men of democracy. First the
honourable exceptions: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia are all in the European Union, where membership is
contingent on being democracies. Also Georgia (49) that declined to
continue as a Russian satellite, recently held a real election
where power changed hands (the ultimate test). Moldova (63)
despite every difficulty imposed by Moscow has striven to be democratic and
Russia (129) now a vast Federation of 89 subsidiary states, the
world’s largest nation, is broadly the same democratically, since
the USSR collapsed in 1991.
Many post- USSR independent successors, those classified as the
FSU, have sailed on (democracy-lite), often under the same former
Communist First Secretaries’ implacable regimes where First
Secretaries morphed first into being Presidents for Life (in
practice if not in title), and latterly into hereditary monarchs, with successors of their own blood becoming the inheritors
of power. (Thus: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan,
Azerbaijan). Belarus has not yet come to a succession, its former
Soviet boss now president, is still running Europe’s last
There are some intriguing exceptions, such as Turkmenistan (149)
where true to form, Niyazov, the former First Secretary of the SSR
became the president and seamlessly took power until over
Christmas 2006. It was announced that he had suddenly succumbed to
an illness and was replaced by the current office holder as the
absolute ruler of this massively wealthy totally remote, desert
state, a man distinguished at least by perhaps the longest surname
of any modern politician, Gurganbuly Berdimuhammedov. But Uzbekistan
(148), which readers may remember brought about the sacking of the
then British Ambassador for courageously publicly protesting (undiplomatic behaviour), so
publicising the nasty habit of Uzbek security folk boiling alive
awkward prisoners until death.
Kazakhstan (137) almost as remote as Turkmenistan but even larger,
has a lively economy since it contains just about every mineral
known to man. It has spent serious money on a new capital city
Astana, and also has continued to be ruled by its former First (SSR)
Secretary whose regime is marked by the normal subservient
parliament. A few years back, we reported the death of a rival in
an upcoming presidential election there who had not it seems, been
paying attention. Refusing to withdraw from the election, he had
then been visited at his home by State security personnel. His
‘suicide’ had been reported as being particularly thorough, since
he not only was held to have shot himself twice through the heart
and once in the head, but had made these shots through a pillow,
as it was said, perhaps not to have disturbed his wife in the next
room. The report at the time said that the Kazakh police were
working on the case – and they probably still are!
The case of Ukraine is still uncertain, since there is a
substantial voting bloc both for those adhering to mother Russia,
as well as those mostly in western Ukraine, who long to join
western institutions. Another factor here is that the results of
the very first post-Soviet election which brought about the Orange
revolution, was challenged in the courts which first ruled that
the pro-Moscow Eastern Ukrainians had indeed won but the courts
buckled under evidence to the contrary. Ukraine now is something
of a political football. The leader of the last government Julia Tymoshenko, on her electoral defeat was charged with a rather
ludicrous series of charges of bad prime-ministerial behaviour and
imprisoned, where she still resides, thus unable to bring her
sprightly practice of politics into the national arena. It does
not look good for democracy!
Azerbaijan (131) This nation doesn’t really fit any of the
previous descriptions of FSU republics. It is deeply undemocratic,
as its ranking shows. It is a very wealthy Caucasian / Caspian Sea
republic, long the main source of oil for the USSR. It is a family
owned state, ever since the former KGB general for this country
founded a dynasty which is phenomenally rich, although the country
remains poor. But unlike the other Soviet colonies that became
‘independent’ but accepting Russia’s authority in many things,
this one is not subservient to Moscow. This is partly because it
is still a Moslem nation, bordering Iran, but also because at
independence, it was having a nasty war with neighbouring Armenia
over the Nagorno Karabakh enclave, and Russia threw its weight
behind Armenia – and still does, which leads to a certain coolness
There now remain in the world five communist states: China (118),
Cuba (122), Vietnam (129), Laos (137), North Korea (150).
The post-Soviet situation is mainly of interest in Russia. It is
undemocratic to be sure. However Putin never considered that he
was in a popularity contest. He came to power basically as the
KGB’s man and did everything that was required of him,
specifically making Russia a respected player again in world
terms. He has restored their national pride. He has cleverly got a
powerful grip on both the oil and gas world markets, giving a
quite different underpinning to the Russian economy than the
communist governments that came before. As to democracy, no
hypocrite he, to the frustration of world liberals, it is just not
on his agenda. (Russia’s World Audit democracy ranking: 129th).
The other, and in world terms more significant situation, being a
changeover of government, was in China (118). There is a new
leadership now overseeing the world’s second largest economy,
although, by the time of the next scheduled leadership change in
2022, China may well have economically overtaken the United
States, and for the first time since the Industrial Revolution,
unless things substantially change, the world’s economic leader
would not be founded on democratic values.
The importance of this is that for the first time, DEMOCRACY as a
world system will be under serious challenge (as it never was
under communism). The challenge comes from the currently
successful Chinese model of public/private enterprise under an
authoritarian form of rule - the whole political/economic
ensemble that can be described as “with Chinese characteristics.”
Given China’s current position, it is plausible that their form of
governance might continue for a long time ‘to deliver the goods’,
just as it is possible that the US/ Western economies might never
recover their former world supremacy.
That leaves as many nations which are neither democratic, nor on
the evidence, close to becoming so, finding themselves on the
No matter what their constitutions say, in this context we remind
readers that our definition of Democracy includes the absence of
public corruption - a key to justice in the courts, a big problem
for these nations.
By the time this ten year Chinese government is itself to be
replaced in 2022, if the Chinese system is self-evidently over its
problems, and is a manifest success; and/or ‘western democracy’ is
not progressing, then the inference is obvious for such sideline
nations, as to their way forward.
Then another and equally vital matter arises. Can these two
competing governing/economic systems then satisfactorily co-exist
The Dark Continent
No study of democratic change can ignore Africa. This giant
continent, supposedly the cradle of the human species, once not
long ago, the plaything of European empire builders, is with few
exceptions doing very badly in terms of democratic criteria. The
African Union sidebar panel illustrates this and the sheer number
of nations accentuates the successes of the few. As a continent,
it produces 45 nations of a million minimum population, but some
are territorial giants – Sudan (144) with comparatively small
populations; giants with giant populations, like Nigeria (94),
and everything in between. Of these 45 African nations, only two hit
our parameter (37) for being fully democratic. So, congratulations
to Mauritius (32), Ghana (33). But worthy of
honourable mention are Botswana (39), Namibia (41) and South Africa (44) all of
which did comparatively well. The new South Sudan is too new to
have a democracy listing but not too new to have a civil war!
At the other end of the group are (nobody would be surprised),
Somalia (147); Eritrea (146), Sudan (144), Dem.Republic of Congo
(140), Zimbabwe (133), Chad (135) and many more………….