Each year we note
differences in the annual democratic performance of the world’s
largest 150 nations (ie having a population exceeding one
million). This year we also compare with a past report, of ten
WE LOOK MORE CLOSELY AT:
It comes as a dismal shock comparing 2014 with 2004 to see just
how ‘gradual’ over ten years the process of democratic change in
the world has become:-
Democratisation: (Progress in Human and Political Rights, Absence
of Corruption, Justice in the Courts, Freedom of Speech & Media,
whilst not totally static, has surely slipped down the world’s
This is disappointing to say the least for democratic gain, where
the furore and upheavals that accompanied the collapse of Soviet
communism are well behind us. There are just five nations left (of
the former thirty four) that remain officially communist – but one
of those is China(121)* whose economic system has mutated towards
a refined version of state capitalism (industrial strategy to the
state, tactics and application to the entrepreneur), which has its
followers, not to say economic admirers in the West.
*The others are North Korea(150), Laos(140), Belarus(142),
RUSSIA AND THE FSU;
A VISION OF WORLD DEMOCRACY
ISLAM & THE MIDDLE EAST;
THE DARK CONTINENT
Russia & The Former Soviet Union
With the passage of time, the world’s attention has steadily been
deflected from following the story in the many former soviet
controlled republics, which we now divide into: A VISION OF DEMOCRACY
Russia(131), a federation of ninety republics, itself stands at
131 out of 150, according to our democracy criteria: Human Rights,
Political Rights, Free Speech, Absence of Public Corruption.
Continuing economic and security ‘colonies’ of Russia:
Belarus(142) and Armenia(93).
Similarly, Central Asians : Kyrgyzstan(115) and Tajikistan(138)
are small, isolated and heavily influenced by Moscow, with China
closely observing the situation.
Others who might look to Russia in the last analysis:
Uzbekistan(148), Kazakhstan(136) – large, independent but both
have succession problems coming up, where the spectator game will
be to see in each nation which relative of the ageing incumbent
dictator/former soviet apparatchik – (they both have daughters,
neither has sons), gets the job. Or, as seems likely, Russia will
already have decided on their candidate who will be supported by
‘Moscow gold’ and the KGB (doing what they are good at).
Fully independent, former Soviet SSRs, now integrated EU and NATO
members: Estonia(14), Latvia(37), Lithuania(23).
Others: Georgia(44), Moldova(67), Azerbaijan(135),
Turkmenistan(149): all independent, but not securely so.
…and then there is Ukraine(113), a 45 million population plagued
by big-time institutional corruption, with pro-Moscow and pro-US
leaning reputedly ‘payroll politicians’, and a mixed population of
ethnic Russians and Ukrainians leading to political stalemate in
many areas. Both Russia and the US are deeply involved in their
politics which has led to it becoming a cockpit of US –Russia
tensions against a background of on-off civil war.
Some of those former ‘all-Union republics’ - the fifteen SSR’s
within the Soviet Union, have gone towards full blown democracy,
along with the Central European and East European former Soviet
satellites. Most of these are now in the EU and do broadly qualify
via our criteria:- Human Rights, Political Rights, Freedom of
Speech, Absence of Public Corruption.
Several others are nowhere near qualifying but have merely become
national dictatorships, with their former Soviet apparatchik
rulers becoming authoritarian, ‘royal family’/dictatorships. Only
one of these, Belarus, is in Europe. In central Asia: Azerbaijan,
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan are all down there, dragging
along, towards the foot of our democracy tables.
But the realignments that accompanied the collapse of the USSR
found Russia itself still a great power –a federation of 90
republics, and seeking continuing indirect dominion over it’s newly
independent, former vassal states. As it turns out, Vladimir Putin,
the only post-USSR individual politician to have registered in
western consciousness, has ruled now as either President or PM,
for 15 years. Despite occupying the role of ‘the man to hate’ as
encouraged by western media, in reality he almost certainly would
still be elected by the Russians, even were there full freedom of
the press and the absence of corruption – neither of which feature
in Russian civil life.
This may be partly because Russia was always an authoritarian
state, before as well as after, the 1917 revolution, up until the
collapse of communism in 1991. Yet in the present days of
widespread online information, political and all other
transformative events are far more readily reported. Today’s
situation in Russia is in this, as in other ways, completely
different to life in the former USSR.
In addition to the abolition of the gulags, freedom to travel at
will, the entrepreneurial ability to found new businesses, the
dropping of military conscription and other freedoms, there is
still something of a siege mentality in Russia, simply because of
the perceived continuing combative attitude of the USA - where
such right wing propaganda news outlets as Fox, picked up and
amplified by several US politicians, give the impression that the
Cold War is still full-on and that Russia is always implacably
wrong, on any issue whether involving the USA, or not.
Many US citizens, despite a healthy free press and TV, are
deliberately misinformed by the continuing neo-con zealots
(hangovers from Bush 43’s years and before, still occupying seats
of power and influence in their country), who inappropriately
still identify present-day Russia as an enemy and lose no
opportunity to damage this important nation.
The depressing violent events in Ukraine recently, are likely at
this point to be referenced by less informed observers, who still
might not know that the trigger event here, which was not widely
reported - if at all, by the US media, was that the US led and
financed the overthrow of the democratically elected President of
Ukraine, because he was Moscow’s rather than WDC’s man.
The particular issue at stake was Russia’s attempt to consolidate
some of its former satellites’ economic futures with its own, via
the new Eurasian Common Market, within which the 45 million slav
population of Ukraine were to have been an important building
block. That imminent outcome was indeed interdicted by this coup,
but the question then becomes, why then did the US seek to prevent
this economic alliance, aimed not so much against any ‘rival’
group like the EU, but which was intended to advance the economic
prospects of the backwards FSU economies, as well as to conserve
the influence of the Russian Federation.
Since the EU itself was not particularly exercised about the
Russian-led Eurasian Common Market, it was never an issue in
European politics. Rather there is widespread sympathy for the
long oppressed Ukrainians, particularly their exploitation by
their own political elite.
Our democracy data shows that Ukraine, even after 23 years of
post-Soviet independence, to have done no better than rank 113 for
democracy (down 7 places from 2013 and the worst in Europe,
excepting only Russia at 131 and Belarus 142). Out of the 150
nations in our current report –Ukraine’s current ‘corruption
score’ is at 119! Two thirds of the nations of Africa, with many
poor performers, are doing better than that.
It is inconceivable right now that Ukraine could become a member
of the EU where democracy is a sine qua non. Certainly they would
have an association agreement with a view to eventual membership,
but the Ukrainians themselves will have to clean up their act
which has arguably even deteriorated, in terms of corruption,
since their 1991 post-soviet independence from Moscow. It would be
madness to seek to incorporate Ukraine into NATO just as it would
with Georgia(44) which so recently needlessly provoked a short
sharp war with Russia, achieving nothing, except to get beaten-up.
It should be recognised that there isn’t the slightest likelihood
of Russian world domination. If it was ever realistic, that
disappeared, along with international communism in the Soviet
collapse of 1991. It’s hard to see that Russia’s vast nuclear
armoury threatens anyone –they have been particularly responsible
about this since, together with the US, they persuaded /paid off
Ukraine and Kazakhstan, to turn over to the greater safety of the
Russian Federation, the nuclear weaponry stranded within their
borders when the USSR abruptly collapsed in 1991.
Russia’s nuclear armoury now is the ultimate guarantee against,
not only a possible if unlikely, future Chinese expansion, but
also (to the frustration of the US neocons), underlines the fact
that their simmering enmity vis a vis Russia, must not cross an
But Russia is an ancient nation that ALWAYS had to fight for its
continuing existence - and respect. It is too quickly forgotten
historically that they alone in medieval Europe, after initial
reverses, eventually saw off the all-conquering Mongols. Later
they destroyed the vast invading army of the hitherto undefeated
Napoleon. It was Soviet Russia that defeated the enormous German
army in WWII, taking astronomic casualties in so doing (with the
western front being an altogether less significant theatre- even
though it didn’t seem so at the time).
This national pride has a lot to do with the impressive public
support in Russia for President Putin, who has refused to bow the
knee to any idea of ‘western superiority’ and has thus salvaged
the pride of Russia, still the largest nation on earth. This
despite the determined verbal assault on Russia and prominent
Russians, at all opportunities, by the die-hard US ‘neocons’ who
enjoy disproportionate power in their country, still apparently
believing that after the 20th C (which was unquestionably ‘the
American century’), that the current 21st C should be expected to
be the same- FOR EVER, despite mega-population China’s and India’s
rapid advances – even at this early point, just 14 years into the
Islam and the Middle-East
It should be said that there are many in the US that share a
vision, frequently based on their faith that God is an American,
that all of the world might become democratic - under the tutelage
of an enlightened US. That might be a wonderful objective, except
that the USA is far from enlightened. It remains of course the
impractical neocon dream, even after experiencing in recent years,
scathing defeat in Vietnam(127) and losing in both
Afghanistan(131) and Iraq(127) – they fail to understand that
democracy cannot be imposed by force of arms where it has never
Domestically the US has the rule of law and great opportunities
for ‘the good life.’ As a nation it has achieved marvellous
things, but for it’s citizens, this often works out in practice
through an economic filter, where they separate as belonging to
either the ‘haves,’ or ‘have-nots’. Also, whatever such an
important nation as the US does, has to be important to all
others. Whilst there is much to admire about the USA, there are
also some widely unacceptable aspects such as the torture of
‘suspects’ some involved in actions against the USA, others not,
some arrested in identity error, or ‘sold,’ by jealous rivals or
just for the money. There was even a category of Guantanamo-held,
pathetic bit-players, like Bin Laden’s cook and his driver.
The weasel words don’t help. President Bush ‘42’ more than once
told a US and world TV audience, that “the US doesn’t do Torture.”
Yet his Vice–President Cheney, even now extols the very cruelty
that in earlier years all civilised nations, many of which had
known centuries of warfare, had come together to outlaw, under the
Geneva Conventions of the 20th century. This question of torture
is a retrograde scar against civilisation. It’s not that there are
no other nations that do it, but that it is everywhere recognised
as a crime against humanity for which punishment remains due, when
that becomes possible. Why else would the Intelligence Agencies so
carefully protect their counter-intelligence operatives, or even
sub-contract out through fat contracts to ‘private enterprise’, to
inflict on behalf of the USA, these universally abhorrent forms of
agony, condemned down the ages.
How can it be that ‘waterboarding,’ which in WWII when practiced
by Gestapo or Japanese interrogators was recognised as a war-crime
- which after the war resulted in executions, yet is held by
apologists like former Vice-President Dick Cheney, not to be
torture at all? However he downplays the grotesque reality, it is
not likely that anyone other than a sadist would voluntarily give
or go to a ‘rectal feeding’ session.
Yet the ambition that the nations of the world should work towards
democracy, is shared by many and is entirely the objective that
our small organisation, ‘World Concern’ was formed to support,
whilst realising that such outcomes are still distant, by any
measure, as a glance at our tables will confirm.
It might be that real democracy is unachievable in nations where
religious beliefs are more powerful than civil law. Clearly some
forms of Islam promote 1400 year old religious law as adequate to
deal with all situations, but as democracy, economic ability and
especially electronic communications are on the increase, then the
ignorance on which such beliefs rest, is doomed. In that context,
Israel too has a big problem with its powerful reactionary
religious groupings, but they have thus far managed, via
government coalition places, etc; to keep the secular politicians
The Christian religion, in its Roman Catholic; Orthodox and
Protestant versions eventually dropped or modified their hard-line
religious diktats within more progressive societies, in order to
survive at all. The world of Islam may also come to that
crossroads and have to conclude that civil law must be paramount
for a nation, and that within it, those who cared ONLY for their
particular holy book, would be side-lined as irrelevant to the
greater good. Clearly that has not happened yet!
However, any lifetime occupies merely an instant of history.
Seeking to spread the advantages of the rule of law according to
democratic precepts, is probably the best that successive
generations can do.
The Dark Continent
In the context of democracy, we consider the effects of the
immediate problems of the Middle-East, in the wake of the neocon’s
2003 Iraqi ‘adventure’- The US and UK invasion.
For the first time in generations, militant Islam has again become
a violent force. It was in the late 19th C that a ‘Mahdi’
(‘divinely guided one’ according to Sunni Moslems), last appeared
in the region, at that time in the Sudan, then an appendage to
Egypt, itself a conscript in the British Empire.
After a reign of terror and the murder of ‘Chinese Gordon’ a
devout Christian and considerable soldier serving as British
viceroy, who was cut down when the Mahdi’s followers stormed
Khartoum; it took a full scale British army that was sent out to
Egypt to defeat the Mahdi’s army, at the Battle of Omdurman.
Historically, ‘Mahdis’ have arisen quite frequently over past
centuries with a mission apparently, to revitalise the Sunni
faith. Many thought that the advent of the Islamic Republic, under
the Ayatollahs in Iran was serious enough, but the Shia branch of
the Islamic religion is not seeking expansion or religious
domination throughout the world.
It was as much about asserting Iranian nationhood vis a vis the
West. It is after all a nation state, ancient, proud and has had a
considerable grudge against the west since it had been
‘economically raped’ in recent history, particularly by US and
British oil interests. But it is a viable nation state, a member
of the UN and apparently rational, not merely a religious
community taking its behaviour from precedents in the7th century,
unlike the ISIS phenomenon which is now exercising the world.
Ironically ISIS emerged in Iraq, the very nation seen by the US
neocons as fertile ground for exported democracy to take root in
the Middle east, once the US had ejected Saddam Hussein and
controlled that nation. It had been chosen (in Cheyney-speak),‘to
teach the Arabs a lesson,’ after the shock of 9/11- although the
great majority of the terrorists in that attack were from Saudi
Arabia with none from Iraq.
In 2004 Iraq ranked 124 for democracy after the US invasion of
2003. Before the rise of ISIS, after the US forces had left, it
stood at 127 where it still stands, (since data is uncollectable
with much of the country being occupied territory). So even before
the ISIS appearance, the US did not leave anything approaching a
democratic state behind them, ‘a model for the region’ - as
according to the neocon mantra it was supposed to have done. The
prospects for democracy there are perhaps currently the worst in
the world. It is not even clear if Iraq will survive as a nation
The Arab Spring commenced in 2010/11 and has shaken up the middle
east in a way unprecedented in modern times. Tunisia(61),
Algeria(88), Lebanon(94), Syria(144), Egypt(102), Jordan(86),
Libya(118), Yemen(138), Morocco(98) and Iraq(127) were all
It came late to Syria in 2011 and there it became a full-blown
civil war, within which al Qaeda’s substantial military presence
was the most effective of the rebel forces. A home-grown ‘secular’
opposition, based partly on Sunni deserters from the Syrian
regular army, was divided since the start, but is to some extent
now sponsored by the US.
Unfortunately in our view, Mrs Clinton’s approach whilst Secretary
of State was to back the cause of the Syrian rebels,
notwithstanding the Al Qaeda reality and other Islamist
connections and it was she that declared that “Assad must go.” In
the event, fortunately he did not go and government forces began
to turn the tide against their opponents, winning back territory
earlier lost to one or another of the rebel groups.
It is significant in our view, that if Assad had indeed gone when
the US Secretary of State demanded it, ensuring the end of this
uniquely secular Arab state, the ensuing vacuum would have caused
Syria’s ancient capital Damascus, by now, rather than rural Raqqa,
to have become the capital of the Caliphate and the Islamic state.
In Libya, the ruler Qaddafi was overthrown and killed. Utter
chaos- not democracy, has followed NATO’s unique intervention (as
the rebel air force), a role they are once again playing in Iraq,
but this time on the government side.
In Egypt by far the largest Arab state, a sorry sequence of events
took place with a soft revolution installing (via a democratic
general election), a Sunni ‘Moslem Brotherhood’ government, which
shortly afterwards was deposed by the Army, so Egypt has turned
full circle and is once again ruled by the military. In Yemen the
ruler was deposed by the population.
In Tunisia where it all began, they have got rid of their dictator
with minimal violence, and remaining secular, they have just
elected a new ruler and government.
The big blow to prospects for peace in the region was the
emergence, following a split in the (Al Qaeda’s) powerful al Aqsa
force in Syria, which led to the breakaway group declaring itself
independent of al Qaeda, as ISIS, a Sunni ‘Islamic State’ with its
head the self-declared Caliph. Currently their capital is the
Syrian town of Raqqa ruling over a territory comprising currently
about 35% of rural Syria including some of their oilfields, and
42% of Iraq, having occupied Basra and currently threatening
Their headlong advance followed a humiliating retreat by Iraq’s
army from Iraqi - now ISIS cities. This has perhaps stabilised,
whilst the adversaries apparently draw breath. Iraqi Kurdistan was
attacked and their Peshmerga fighters initially driven back by the
ISIS forces, whilst the Iraqi army was comprehensively defeated in
The US quickly put together ‘a coalition of the willing’ to
conduct aerial warfare on the ISIS presence, but ‘no boots on the
ground.’ It can be seen that whatever else, from somewhere, ground
troops will be required. Iran discreetly stepped in to help in
Iraq as ISIS is the sworn enemy of the Shiites in this religious
war. Tehran which supports the Iraqi government, quietly blocked a
dangerous ISIS advance towards Baghdad with its own ground troops.
At the same time Iranian jets have conducted bombing raids on the
ISIS capital of Raqqa (in Syria). So have the Syrian Air Force,
who have been fighting this enemy originally in its Al Aqsa mode,
sitting on their territory for three years now. Everyone knows
that the US task force is also bombing the rebel capital. The
current absurdity is that the US are still backing the rebels
(including al Qaeda’s Al Aqsa) in Syria, whilst they share their
common enemy, ISIS, with Assad and the Iranians. The Iranian
involvement the US government are simply embarrassed to
acknowledge, because of the US Congress’ antipathy towards Iran,
as schooled by Israel, the US’s “Middle East ally” (who despite
the description, do not themselves get involved).
The present proposal is that the men of the so-called secular Free
Syrian Army which has not impressed, in the sense that they are
seemingly more like war-bands with distinct leaders, than an
organised army, will be trained up by the US to be proper
soldiers, good enough to see off the highly motivated ISIS -
perhaps. Not many observers are convinced!
It has not been explained how these FSA volunteers who ‘joined up’
in Syria to fight the incumbent Assad government, are expected to
fight against their former colleagues, the religiously motivated
rebels, now in Iraq, as well as in Syria, where the Syrian
government are getting on with fighting against ALL rebels,
including the Al Qaeda rebels Al Aqsa, who are still active
against the Assad government.
If the real enemy to be destroyed is ISIS which threatens the
whole region and beyond, which Assad clearly does not, it is
surely time for a reset of policy?
The prospects for democracy can be seen to be secondary to sheer
survival, for many of those involved. The middle-east was always
and remains, the least good prospect for democracy.
All of the above, not just the Egyptian army’s volte face to take
back power after a democratic election (itself a true wonder in
Egypt (102), sets the agenda for the near future.
Democracy and War
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 very few. As a
continent, it produces 45 nations of one million minimum
population, but some are territorial giants – Sudan(145) with a
comparatively small population; giants with giant populations,
like Nigeria(91), and everything in between. Of these 45 African
nations, only two are within our parameter(36) for being fully
democratic. So, congratulations to Mauritius(32) and Ghana(33).
But worthy of honourable mention are Botswana(39), Namibia(41)
and South Africa(43) 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 far end of the Democracy tables are (few would be
surprised), Eritrea(147), Somalia(146), Sudan(145).
Democracy is not just desirable but essential
“Prospects for the Future of War”
As recently as September 2014, NewNations took the centenary of
the ‘14-‘18 war as a theme to explore US President Wilson’s
statement back then, that this was no less than “The War To End
After looking at what actually happened – the miserable, violent
realities over this past century, including the emergence of
‘absolute’ weapons so frightful that no ‘winner’ would emerge from
another world war, we finished that study with a section
Given the fact that media headlines are constantly preparing us
for the worst - ‘the Cold War resumes’; ‘Militant Islam challenges
the World’; it is clear that despite all the dreadful experiences
of the 20th Century, war remains an active ingredient in the
ordering of national and alliance policies. We have concluded that
the only solution that we could see to potentially end wars (a
proliferation of ‘ultimate weapons’ haven’t done it) , was to work
towards universal nation-state democracy, since there is
compelling evidence over time that democratic nations do not go to
war with each other.
Democracy’s slow progress
We have already mentioned our disappointment with the slow
progress of democracy amongst nations, not to be confused with the
fact that most have ‘elections’ periodically, which calls up the
pejorative Stalin quotation – ‘what matters is not who votes, but
who COUNTS the votes.’ But even if voting was at least trending
towards being scrupulously honest (as we believe it to be in our
current 36 (Divisions 1&2) democracies -see below), there is still
the matter of corruption, one of our key criteria. How can anyone
accept a civil or criminal legal system –the rule of law- in the
verdict of any court, in a nation where public corruption reigns?
Indeed, so many countries in the world still have this
contamination (see the Corruption Rankings’ columns in the tables
below), that it has long been commonplace in international
business, in the event of inability of the parties to agree, that
they contractually resort to third-party professional
international arbitrators, sitting in a different country.
Then there is the critical matter of free speech and media freedom
(our ‘Press Freedom’ columns) essential in making an informed
choice in voting, and in curbing the excesses of power elites.
This must also be required before a nation can qualify for the
proud label of democracy. Yet this area of media as an enterprise
is often suspect in the manipulative ability that it enjoys.
Most, if not all European nations, do not permit paid television
political advertising, for what seem like obvious reasons (–an
extraordinary concept for many Americans where bought TV time is
the key political tool that swallows the largest part of election
funding, for all parties and candidates).
Free broadcasting time for competing parties is required by law by
the UK for TV and Radio, along with many other European nations.
Similarly where candidates are featured.
First generation media moguls are often combative and
‘thick-skinned,’ impervious to criticism, but state control is
hardly bettered by ‘media mogul control’. The ‘Press Barons’ are
not subject to law in the promotion of political parties. Indeed
with few exceptions their newspapers’ political stance is well
known and rather discounts the impact of their political
reporting. This is why the BBC, a chartered corporation, is both
popular and trusted where the news and political reportage is
concerned. But commercial TV and radio companies are also legally
subject to giving equality of broadcast political party exposure,
at election times.
It is easy to see why the media, constantly pushing the envelope,
need to be regulated (but well short of censorship), by the rule
of law in any democracy. It is not possible to contain the
drip-drip of an editorial line, like that say of the UK’s “Daily
Mail” which bred- in-the-bone is consistently ‘anti-abroad;’ or
the “Daily Telegraph,” which sees itself –and seeks to be seen, as
the backbone and tutor of the Conservative Party, particularly
when difficult issues arise - but whatever else, they are not
organs of state control. The divide is not about their support of
one or another policy –they are free to do that, but state
involvement is to see that the media overall may not simply
suppress a political message, with which it’s managers might not
What are known in the UK as the ‘Red-tops’ (from their mast-heads)
are more about entertainment and any/every form of scandal, than
dispensing hard news, their tabloid mass circulations probably
depend on that. Many other nations have similar.
But the proprietors determine which side of the political divide
to support in domestic politics. It’s effectively their commercial
decision based, amongst other factors on target readership.
The general desire for democracy is unlikely to go away and such
innovations as the Internet and the World Wide Web, are now and
will continue to be hugely influential –it does serve to puncture
the balloon of a controlled media, by either economic or political
This currently manifests itself via pressure groups and has caused
a massive change in public attitudes such as government responses
to the likes of ‘wikileaks,’ about which many countries are fairly
relaxed - whilst others are totally incensed. Given the advent of
increasingly sophisticated hacking, it seems that the concept of
secrecy is itself in a nosedive. How this will play is hard to
see, but where the cause is that of spreading democracy, it is
hard to see it other than as beneficial.
Commentary on the 2015 Democracy tables:
Due regard should be given to the actual experience of life in
those nations at the top of our democracy tables. You KNOW that
you are in a good place in any or all of the Scandinavian nations,
Switzerland, Netherlands, New Zealand and just a few others, that
year after year top our charts. Similarly, at the other end of the
tables, North Korea is unmistakable as a classically repressive
society. It operates under the Rule of Law, but it is an evil
retrograde system of ‘law’ - intolerable in fact, as it depends
entirely on the rigid control of the entire people by an elite
with inherited power.
In this it is distinct from such as Somalia, which broadly is a
savage society, outside any rule of law, where religious fanatics
and their warlords ride high in a geographically confined space,
permanently at war within itself.
Two large post-Soviet republics compete with North Korea for
bottom place: Uzbekistan whose dictator was originally the USSR’s
‘First Secretary’ of the local communist party, the top man even
before his republic’s unasked-for independence. The then British
ambassador to Uzbekistan got fired some years ago, because he
publicly complained about the dictator’s thugs there boiling
political opponents alive –until they weren’t!
The other frequent bottom dweller, is the very obscure oil-rich
Turkmenistan where government is controlled by a similarly opaque
power clique, whose autocratic rule equates with the worst days of
The world’s political systems are far from ‘tidy’ with no single
alternative to the thirty six fully democratic (our Divisions One
and Two) - and another thirty six Division Three
‘democracy-inclining’ governments, which together amount to nearly
half of all the nations listed –roughly our Divisions 1, 2 & 3.
Excepting a tiny number of anomalies, (particularly Singapore
which rigidly controls it’s unfree media, and thus continuity of
government), the 4th Division demonstrably gets worse the deeper
one explores - and that’s more than half the nations on earth!
There are typically few changes year on year, so since the January
2014 report, Japan has spectacularly gone up to Division One. From
last year leading Division Two at 28th, Japan is now well placed
amongst the leaders at 16th - a substantial rise.
Italy is now 29th and back where it belongs in Division One,
skipping Division Two, coming back straight from 43d in the Third
However, South Korea has dropped out of Division Two where it was
ranked 31st, down to Division Three, now at 38th, from where it
might be expected hopefully to bounce back.
Two nations have risen from Div 4 to Div 3. They are: Papua New
Guinea formerly at 73 now 54. Congratulations on a big rise and
Tunisia where the Arab Awakening started (and after a successful
election, is now about the only success story in the Arab States);
was at 77 and is now 61. This also places Tunisia at the top of
the Arab League (sidebar below).
The January 2015 Audit of
For January 2015 we have again published an updated annual
comparative table of results, for those 150 nations that exceed
one million population.
The criteria we use to monitor democracy are Human Rights and
Political Rights. These determine which of four divisions a nation
We then measure the absence of public corruption and availability
of ‘free speech’ (media) to determine rank, within those four
We publish today the current results at Jan 1st 2015 based on
performance by the nations with populations exceeding one million.
Our data are obtained via co-operation with New York-based
‘Freedom House’ (the world’s oldest NGO); and Berlin-based
‘Transparency International’ to whom we continue to be grateful.
The RESULTS for the 150 nations are set out in the Tables below
We have also compared the results in our commentary (of the same
methodology) of ten years ago,
World Audit of November 2004
In this our most recent, the 2015 report, we demonstrate that just
36 nations (of 150) are fully democratic (the totals of inclusion
of Divs.1&2). Ten years ago the number was just the same at
World Audit at January 2015
Top nations now are Denmark 1st, Finland 2nd, Sweden 3d, Norway
A DECADE ago that read: Finland 1st, Denmark & New Zealand equal
2nd, Sweden 4th.
It becomes obvious that the Scandinavian countries, together with
New Zealand, consistently are the most democratic nations on
Right now, it’s no surprise that North Korea is last in the world
- 150th in Democracy; 150th in Press Freedom and joint 149th (with
Somalia), for Corruption.
The worst results 10 years ago were Myanmar then (149th) now well
improved at (124th);then Libya(148) now at 118; Zimbawe(147) now
improved at (126); Haiti(146) now (102) a big gain;
4th Division countries ten years ago totalled (77) Now it’s at
It would not be unfair to characterise many in the 4th Division as
‘no-hopers’ where democracy is concerned. They’re in Div 4 because
their Human rights and Political rights are rubbish; Freedom of
Speech (the media) is absolutely not free, and Corruption is
ridiculous - a bad joke.
There isn’t a lot of movement down at the bottom or indeed, in or
out of Div 4, currently totalling 78, therefore:
more than half of the 150 nations on earth are not democratic
Ten years ago the 4th Div. had 77 nations- so it’s now just
After 10 years it seems apparent to us that Div 3, most of whom
are certainly not ‘no-hopers,’ currently listing 33 countries, is
the one to watch, back then it totalled 36. Division 3 includes
some marginal democracies not quite there - like India(51) but
ten years ago was at (62). Given its billion-plus citizens, it
struggles to overcome corruption, but makes a pretty good fist at
its elections. India has just peacefully changed governments, the
ultimate test of a democracy and has made some important inroads
into media freedom which was (62) and is now at (46).
Compare India today, overall ranking (51) was (62); with China,
which today ranks (121) 10 years ago was (126). India is now
within reach of being classed as ‘fully democratic,’ by continual
steady improvement. That is true for several in Division 3, which
as we say, is the area to watch for movement both up and down.
Methodology: The World Democracy tables' sidebar notes, explain
our sources and how we build the statistics into tables of rank.
We define democracy via the criteria of Human Rights; Political
Rights; Free Speech; and the Absence of Public Corruption.
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 nations are ranked
by Free Speech and the prevalence of public
1st January 2015
WORLD AUDIT’S 2014 WORLD DEMOCRACY RANKINGS (150 nations)