by Amna El Tawil
Long gone are the days when the United States posed as a haven for all those who needed help, refuge, and a chance for a better life far away from undemocratic societies. Instead, it has become a land where immigrants and descendants of immigrants are becoming xenophobic, a place where tolerance towards different races and religions is slowly drifting away, according to experts who’re closely monitoring the level of democracy exerted in nations all around the world.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in its 2016 Democracy Index report, the US has been downgraded to a “flawed democracy” from a “full democracy”. What is a flawed democracy? It is a country with free elections but weighed down by weak governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation, according to the EIU. Other flawed democracies in 2016 included Japan, France, Singapore, South Korea and India, the report said.
On the other hand, full democracy is a country wherein basic political freedoms and civil liberties are respected and are “underpinned by a political culture conducive to the flourishing of democracy.” The government functions satisfactorily; media are independent and diverse; the judiciary is independent and their decisions are enforced, and there’s an effective system of checks and balances.
The CNBC reports that every year, the firm’s Democracy Index provides a snapshot of global democracy by scoring countries on five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture. Nations are then classified under four types of governments: full democracy, flawed democracy, the hybrid regime and authoritarian regime.
America’s score fell to 7.98 last year from 8.05 in 2015, below the 8.00 threshold for a full democracy, the EIU announced in a report on Wednesday. That put the world’s largest economy on the same footing as Italy, a country known for its fractious politics.
While most people would, now, accuse President Donald Trump of the downgrade in democracy level in the country, that’s not actually correct according to this report. Despite the fact the EIU published the report after Trump’s inauguration, analysts write that the US was not downgraded because of him.
In fact, Trump’s victory is the effect of multiple underlying causes that are now swimming up to the surface. The report also showed that Americans’ trust in government has been declining since the late 1950s. Moreover, inequality in the US has been on the rise.
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