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Former Soviet Union Ranks Poorly In 'Democracy Index'

(RFE/RL) November 21, 2006 -- Britain's "The Economist" weekly has published a new "Democracy Index," in which it ranks 167 countries around the world according to their degree of democracy.

The survey looks at indicators across five broad categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.

According to the survey, countries are divided into four types of regime: full democracies (28 countries), flawed democracies (54), hybrid regimes (30), and authoritarian regimes (55).

Only 13 percent of the world lives in full democracies, though almost half live in democracies of some sort. Sweden ranks as the fullest democracy, followed closely by Iceland and the Netherlands.

Most countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) are either ranked as hybrid or authoritarian regimes. Among the CIS states, only Ukraine and Moldova attain the status of flawed democracies.

According to the survey, Russia is on a "watch list," due to concerns that it could slip from its hybrid status into an authoritarian regime.

Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan are already classified as authoritarian. Neighboring Kyrgyzstan is ranked as a hybrid regime.

The United States (17th place), the United Kingdom (23rd), and France (24th) are near the bottom of the list of full democracies due to erosions of civil liberties. North Korea ranks as the least democratic country in the index.

Democracy In Russia

Democracy In Russia

Demonstrators in Moscow carry a coffin with a television in it to protest government control over broadcasting (TASS file photo)

DO RUSSIANS LIKE THEIR GOVERNMENT? During a briefing at RFE/RL's Washington office on November 15, Richard Rose, director of the Center for the Study of Public Policy at the University of Aberdeen, discussed the results of 14 surveys he has conducted since 1992 on Russian public opinion about democracy and the country's development. He discussed the implications of these opinions for relations with the West and for Russia's 2008 presidential election.


Listen to the complete discussion (about 42 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media


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