Turkey among biggest losers in global democracy ranking

Out of almost 50 countries in greater Europe, only one performed worse than Turkey in The Economist’s latest Democracy Index, released on Wednesday. Just Italy, which fell 12 spots, outdid Turkey, which dropped 10 places last year.

“Turkey’s score declined further in 2018 as the country consolidated amid weakening checks on the presidency,” the Economist Intelligence Unit wrote in its annual report. “A presidential election in June, won by the incumbent, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was held under a state of emergency and appeared mostly free, but largely unfair.”

Countries in western Europe, where EIU places Turkey, took seven of the top 10 spots in the index, including the top three. The region has the second-highest regional score, with 14 “full democracies”, six “flawed democracies”, and one “hybrid regime” (Turkey).

Western Europe, EIU Democracy Index, 2019

Turkey’s rating on elections and political pluralism (4.50) is about the same as those of Iraq and Singapore, while its overall ranking of 110, out of 167, places it just ahead of Gambia and Pakistan, and just behind Palestine and Nigeria.

In 2018, political participation was the only one of five Democracy Index metrics to improve, and it did so enough to halt a global slide in democracy for the first time in three years. “The growth of political participation is, moreover, a trend that is evident in almost every region of the world,” said the report. “Only the Middle East and North Africa registered a decline in political participation in 2018.”

Perhaps the most striking advance has been the political participation of women, EIU found. In the past decade, women’s participation has increased more than any other of the index’s 60 indicators.

On the flip side, over the same period, no scores in the Democracy Index have deteriorated more than those related to freedom of expression and the presence of free print and electronic media.

As the government continues a crackdown on media and free expression, Turkey’s 2018 civil liberties rating of 2.35 is by far the lowest in its region. It is equal to those of Bahrain and Belarus, worse than authoritarian Russia and Cuba, and barely better than Myanmar.

“Civil liberties that form the bedrock of democratic values are continuing to be eroded,” said the report. “Free speech is increasingly being restricted by both state and non-state actors.”

 

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