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Uruguay, one the very few “full democracies” in the world, The Economist

Friday, February 5th 2021 - 08:42 UTC
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Uruguay's score is perfect in the category “Electoral process and pluralism” (10) and Civil liberties, (9,71); “Political culture”, (8,13); “Political participation”, (6,67). Photo: Sebastián Astorga Uruguay's score is perfect in the category “Electoral process and pluralism” (10) and Civil liberties, (9,71); “Political culture”, (8,13); “Political participation”, (6,67). Photo: Sebastián Astorga

Uruguay leads as one of four full democracies in the Americas, according to the Democracy Index 2020, published by The Economist. Uruguay scored 8,61 points out of a possible 10 and ranked fifteenth at world level, while the other “full” democracies in the region are Costa Rica, 8,16; Chile, 8,28 and Canada with 9,24 points.

The overall global average is 5,37, and the end of the democracy list is North Korea with 1,08 points.

According to the Index, countries are catalogued as “full democracies,” “imperfect democracies,” “hybrid regimes” or “authoritarian regimes.” The Index also includes five items including functioning of government and electoral processes.

In its introduction the report indicates that “regression was partly the result of the measures undertaken by the different governments to address the public health emergency triggered by the pandemic from Covid-19, which has meant the suspension of civil liberties of whole populations during prolonged periods of time.”

This means that democratic freedoms have backtracked almost 70% in world countries during 2020 because of the restrictions imposed in the fight against the pandemic, underlines The Economist report.

”In all the world, last year, citizens experienced the worst regression in individual freedoms ever implemented by governments in peace time (and maybe also in times of war). The voluntary surrender of fundamental freedoms by millions of persons across the world was perhaps one the most notable event in an extraordinary year.“

The phenomenon is global and mostly pronounced in the autocratic regimes from Africa and the Middle East, but the suppression of individual liberties in advanced democracies was most significant in 2020.

”The voluntary abandonment of fundamental liberties by millions of people was maybe one of the most notorious events of an extraordinary year..., but we can't conclude that the high level of acceptance of confinement measures means people have minimized the value of freedom.“

”Simply they judged, on the basis of evidence..., that avoiding catastrophic deaths justified a partial temporary loss of freedom,“ adds the report.

The ten countries top of the ranking are Ireland, which jumped from position 8 in 2019 to first in 2020, followed by Australia, Netherlands, Taiwan, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Uruguay, United Kingdom and Chile. Uruguay in effect climbed from position 15 en 2019 to position 8, as said above with 8,61 points out of 10 in the list of ”full democracies.“

Uruguay's score is perfect in the category, ”Electoral process and pluralism” (10); Civil liberties, (9,71); “Political culture”, (8,13); “Political participation”, (6,67) and in “Functioning of government”, (8,57).

In the Latin American ranking Uruguay leads, followed by Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Surinam. The last five of the ranking are Bolivia, Haiti, Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela.

The Economist research unit has been doing the Democracy Index annually and the 2020 average of 5,37 “has been the worst since 2006, when the index was first launched”. The country which most advanced since has been Taiwan.

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