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Post Revenge of the "Deplorables"? "The Economist" Democracy Index 2016
Created by John Eipper on 01/28/17 2:53 PM

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Revenge of the "Deplorables"? "The Economist" Democracy Index 2016 (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 01/28/17 2:53 pm)

The topics of Democracy, Populism, globalization, Brexit and Trump have been extensively discussed on the WAISForum. It is not my purpose to return to them now.

However, I would like to share The Economist's Democracy Index 2016 report, with the suggestive title "Revenge of the Deplorables," which deals with those particular subjects.

The Democracy index is a yearly survey indicator published by The Economist, which tries to measure the "level" or the state of the Democracy worldwide in more than 170 countries. This snapshot is based on five measured categories:

• Electoral process and pluralism
• Civil liberties
• Functioning of government
• Political participation
• Political culture

The composed index ranks countries from 1 to 10, being 10 the highest level of democracy. According to this ranking, they sort them into four categories:

• Full democracies
• Flawed Democracies
• Hybrid
• Authoritarian

The full report can be found in a PDF file I am enclosing (I let our Editor to decide the option to make it privately available for interested readers), but I will mention some of the more relevant conclusions:

• Highest level Democracies are European, Scandinavian countries first (it could not be otherwise!).
• Particularly, the US democracy has been classified as "flawed."
• In general, worldwide Democracies are in decay, regression or decline, a trend especially visible in governance, media freedom, political participation and trust in political and state institutions.
• Democracies are not only in trouble in the underdeveloped world, in the East, in Russia, China, or Arab countries, but also in the more "mature" democracies of the West, particularly in the US.

The crisis of democracy is expressed in:

• the failing traditional political party system
• the growing gap between elites and electorates
• the rise of populist parties, rightist or leftist
• Relevant unexpected and dramatic political changes in 2016, Brexit in England and Trump in The US.

The apparent causes mentioned by the report are:

• Economic crisis (2008-2009 Financial crisis) which left deep scars in the most powerful economies; unemployment, GDP contractions
• Austerity measures to compensate for the crisis
• Lack of an efficient institutional political response
• Increased globalization, which causes inequalities, unemployment and poverty in many communities and "Deplorables," ignored people left behind, who did not benefit from the globalization process.

The term "Deplorables" is apparently attributed to Hillary's Clinton statement on September 9th 2016. "You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic-you name it....Now, some of these folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America."

All these factors are possible root causes of the people´s disenchantment, their loss of trust in government, democratic political institutions and leaders, bureaucratic elites, and the democratic system in general.

It seems that even if the report's conclusions are only partially true, the world is on the dawn of a new era, where Democracy has to rethink and reshape itself in order to survive new trends.

JE comments:  "Flawed Democracy" is not something to be proud of.  The United States is about even with India, just ahead of Mongolia, and trails Uruguay.  The noted trend (see below) for most countries is a downward trend in the rankings over the last several years.  A new era?  José Ignacio Soler's own Venezuela has descended into full-blown authoritarianism.


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