Global democracy suffered a significant regression in 2017, according to The Economist's latest annual Democracy Index published today. The Index – which assesses the state of democracy in 165 independent states and two territories in 2017 – has recorded the worst performance since the aftermath of the global financial and economic crisis in 2010. Not a single region recorded an improvement in its average score in 2017 compared with 2016.
One contributing factor to this has been a marked decline in media freedoms and curbs on free speech, through growing threats of government repression and new challenges from non-state actors. This year’s Democracy Index report has a special focus on media freedom and includes a new Media Freedom Index and global ranking. Key findings from the report included:
- Deepening political, social and cultural divisions are becoming entrenched in many of the world’s democracies
- Asia experienced the biggest democratic decline of all the seven regions
- Spain has retained its status as a "full democracy", but its score fell sharply, in part because of the national government’s handling of the Catalonia crisis
- Nordic countries occupy the top three spots of the ranking, with North Korea in last place