The latest findings of the Democracy Index rankings have just been released by the Economic Intelligence Units (EIU) showing Asia and Australasia to be making more headway in advancing democracy than any other region. However, Asian democracies continue to trail behind North America (8.56), Western Europe (8.35) and Latin America (6.22).
The findings also showed that Asia remains the region with the biggest deviation in scores among its countries. Top scorers are New Zealand (9.26) retaining its 4th position in the global ranking (out of 167 countries) while persistent laggard is North Korea (1.08), ranking last at 167th.
Australia and New Zealand remain the only two “full democracies” in the region as China rose in the global rankings standing at 9th place. Evidently though, the ascent of China in the index primarily mirrors the virtual deterioration of other nations, mainly those in Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Among the democracies of East Asia, Japan experiences the largest increase in its score, owing to its efforts towards increasing women and youth participation in democratic processes.
In contrast, Hong Kong saw a minor decline (from 71st to 73rd) in its overall score. The government banned the Hong Kong National Party, a clear impediment to Hong Kong’s already fragile democracy. The territory’s election commission is aggressively screening candidates at present and has barred those who support greater autonomy from mainland China to run for office.
Singapore’s rank rose from 69th to 66th but remains classified for five consecutive years as a “flawed democracy.” Parliamentary elections are conducted every five years and are viewed to be free elections. In addition, the ruling party is generally viewed by supporters and critics alike as effective with regard to the formulation and implementation of policy. Civil liberties remain a cause for concern in the city state, as the government continues to control freedom of speech and the right to assemble.
Taiwan’s rank rose from 33rd to 32nd.